The No. 1 issue just about everywhere is the shortage of workers, especially for skilled jobs. One operations manager said his company had to "get creative" to fill open positions. He could have been speaking for the other companies, too.
What does that mean? A variety of things, but interns were almost everywhere. I lucked into a couple of good stories about internship programs — watch for them in our Sept. 2 internship issue — because companies are stepping up efforts to bring in both high school and college students.
These interns are doing a lot more than fetching coffee and doughnuts. They're trusted with important tasks.
Here's a promising development: In some cases, local schools actually helped initiate the internship programs. Teachers, administrators and students understand there are opportunities in manufacturing.
The molders who hire interns hope a few will eventually become full-time workers. But they cited a selfless reason, too: They realize that in order to thrive, the U.S. manufacturing sector as a whole needs an influx of new talent. So even if this summer's intern ends up at another molding plant or OEM in five years, they'll consider the program a success.
It was a delight for me to hear that from more than one company, and unexpected, too.
Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of the Plastics Blog. Follow him on Twitter @donloepp.