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Injection Molding Innovation

Beat the Skilled Labor Shortage with a Bus?

I just had to share this story from the October 27th, 2014 issue of Plastics News. You can hardly go to a plastics industry website, a plastics industry publication or a plastics industry trade show without hearing about the severe skilled labor shortage in the plastics industry. It affects all processing sectors – injection molding, extrusion, blow molding, thermoforming… you name it.

So as the article in Plastics News reports, Primera Plastics, Inc. in Zeeland, MI has found a very novel solution to their difficulties in finding skilled injection molding personnel. They bought a bus. Yep, a 15 passenger shuttle bus. The Primera program targets local unemployed, high-school graduates who don’t have reliable transportation. The bus solves the transportation problem. Then Primera takes things a step further and provides in-plant training to get the entry-level employees the training they need to perform their jobs. According to the article, Primera will be offering transportation over the course of one year. After a year on the job, the employees should be able to make other arrangements for getting to work.

This is the kind of creative thinking that the plastics industry needs.

In this case, the company solved the transportation problem in a pretty straight-forward way. They then put in place a “grow your own” skilled employees training system to assure that the new hires are able to perform at an acceptable level. The nice thing about the training The nice thing about the training is that it is a SYSTEM. Minimal monitoring is required to turn out a consistent pool of qualified employees. I’d be willing to bet that Primera Plastics will be largely immune to the skilled labor shortage sooner rather than later.

At Paulson, we have been advocating a “grow your own” approach for years because we feel that implementing a training system in your plant offers the best long-term, self-sufficient solution for plastics processors facing the daily impacts of not having enough qualified employees on all 3 shifts. The training should follow the “blended” learning model utilizing various teaching methods including interactive video (DVD or on-line lessons), in-plant classroom tanning, in-plant at-the-machine-training and even outside seminars to get a view of the “bigger picture” from other in the industry.

Plastics News also did a survey recently asking the question “How would you describe your company’s efforts to find new talent?”. The results are shown below.

Plastics News Training Survey
















And here is just a small excerpt of what Paulson has to offer to new hires who have zero plastics industry or even manufacturing production floor experience. This is from our Injection Molding Fundamentals course.

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