After talking to a number of moldmakers attending and exhibiting at the recent Amerimold trade show in Rosemont (April 13-14), the good news is that most are seeing a surge in business. Some now have backlogs into July.
The bad news however, is that most cannot find skilled workers to keep up with all this new business. Almost every mold maker I spoke with lamented the lack of available talent in the trade. The recent survey of the American Mold Builders Association bore this out when asked to list their top three hiring challenges.
Attitude/work ethic seemed to come up a lot in the comments from respondents. One respondent listed his top three challenges as:
- Low volume of applicants to choose from
- Finding the right mix of initiative and skill
Another respondent listed his top three hiring challenges:
- Finding people with work ethic we need
- Finding intelligent people who still want to work with their hands
- Finding people who still believe manufacturing is a legitimate, long-term career opportunity
It's a different world out there and the manufacturing trades are lacking in people with skills, work ethic, and who actually want to work in manufacturing. McDonald's announced a few days ago that it will hire 50,000 employees at its restaurants across the U.S., and people lined up around the block for these jobs flipping burgers and cashiering.
Those jobs require little in the way of training, and while there are opportunities for promotions, few will make the money that is possible in the mold making trade in positions such as mold design, plastic part design, machine tool operation, programming and setup, after only a year or so of training.
Many mold companies are offering their own training and apprenticeship programs to get the skills they need. Some work with local technical schools to find the brightest and best who get the basics in technical skills, then bring them on board for training in the specific skill sets that the shops need.
It should be the job of every industry trade association and individual companies to promote manufacturing as a long-term, good-paying viable career path. If you're one of those complaining about lack of skilled workers or lack of people who want to work in manufacturing, then you need to do more than just complain. Get out there and work with your local trade/tech schools, the local high schools and community colleges to promote mold manufacturing. It will be up to you to cultivate the employees you need to ensure the future of your company and the industry.
What are the top three hiring challenges at your company?