The plastics industry is at a crossroads. Today’s manufacturing resembles nothing of itself even ten years ago, and there is a serious threat of the talent pool falling behind the curve. Machinery and technology exist that can greatly improve productivity, but they can only be put to use if the workforce behind them has the required knowledge.
In the golden age of information, volume alone is no longer the solution to increased productivity. Highly technical and specialized skills are required not only to meet the demand for productivity and output, but to maintain that growth into the future. Traditionally, workforce training has been an ad-hoc solution that was only moderately successful for specific applications. Now we have the resources to formally train our entire workforce—not just for today’s technologies, but for the future.
Through the services of Tooling U-SME comes Plastics U—an online learning center for the ground floor of the plastics industry. Evaluation is accomplished through traditional methods of assessments and certifications, but the real magic is in how those goals are reached.
Effective training is a fluid process that is highly customized. Extensive analysis of the plastics industry’s unique challenges and needs resulted in a custom collection of courses being offered as an alternative to traditional “one size fits all” solutions for manufacturing workforce development. With levels ranging from a basic introduction to the most advanced studies, courses include:
- Interpreting Blueprints
- Heat Treatment of Steel
- Creating a Milling Program
- Rigging Inspection and Safety
- Introduction to Fluid Systems
- Troubleshooting: Understanding Causes and Effects
- Principles of Injection Molding
- CNC Controls: GE Fanuc, Haas, and Mazak
- Measuring System Analysis
Our industry is no stranger to the phenomenon of a manufacturing skills gap. As recent as 2011, studies such as the Skills Gap Report conducted by the Manufacturing Institute show that 83% of U.S. manufacturing companies are being challenged by at least a moderate shortage in qualified workers for skilled production. At the same time, customer demand for output continues to be a major driving force. Where training used to be a benefit that was “nice to have,” it is now a critical component of a roadmap to future success.
Employees of SPI-member companies automatically receive access to the massive knowledge base offered through Plastics U, and employers are encouraged to integrate these customized courses and curricula into their own workforce development. Where this program excels is in its flexibility. Online learning is hardly a new concept, but for the specialized skills that have proven themselves capable of stifling growth, it is a perfect match.
Start planning for tomorrow by learning today. Find out more about Plastics U at www.plasticsindustry.org/PlasticsU.