Every injection molder, extrusion processor, blow molder and all of the rest of the plastics processes have long-time employees who probably carry a disproportionate amount of the weight when it comes to keeping things running smoothly on the production floor. They are good. You couldn’t run your plant without them.
These key employees often have learned their craft through years of experience. That is the way “training” has been done in the plastics industry for years, even decades. But this model is becoming outdated. There are new, very cost-effective training technologies that are available to virtual every plastics processor right now. It no longer takes years of on-the-job experience to become a proficient injection molder, for example. What used to take years to learn now can be taught in months.
Using a blended learning model that incorporates, interactive on-line training, injection molding machine simulator lessons, classroom training and hands-on instruction, a reasonably competent individual who wants to learn injection molding can go from knowing next to nothing about injection molding to being an accomplished scientific molder in 6 months or so.
Our own surveys show that about 60% of plastics processors list “No Formal Training” as their biggest training problem. That is a huge opportunity for the other 40%. To see real world proof of this, just look at Plastics News Magazine Processor of the Year award. Virtually every year, the winner has placed a strong emphasis on employee knowledge and skills development. Very often Paulson courses are part of that mix. Of course, there are a lot of factors that go into being named the best of the best, but a well trained workforce is certainly one of them.
One very important aspect of having a formalized, on-going training process in your plant is the ability to track the return on your training investment. It is pretty much impossible to track the return of on-the-job training. It is by definition unstructured training.
If you train deliberately in a structured way, you will have training records for every employee, before and after measures of employee knowledge and skills and before and after measures of key production metrics. This data can help your company in a couple of areas.
First, employees can see tangible results of their training progress. This creates “buy-in” and a desire to continue training.
If you tie an employee’s training success to their paycheck, this effect is multiplied many times over.
Second, with before and after production floor metrics, management can see a real ROI from training. This justifies the investment and sets the stage for turning training from a one-time event into an on-going process.
Plastics processors that embrace continuous on-going training using all of the training options available… online interactive training, injection molding simulation, seminars/classroom instruction and hands on at-the-machine instruction will prosper in the coming years. In fact, they are prospering now.
So, keep those experienced employees who have learned their plastics processing skills through experience. But start planning now for what is going to be the standard training model in the very near future in the plastics industry. Longevity is good. Proficiency is even better.