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SPE nurtures next generation of plastics professionals

Attracting the next generation of plastics industry employees and trade association members is high on the to-do list of industry trade groups. On October 22, the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE; Bethel, CT) announced a strategy to draw more young people into the industry and into SPE itself.

"Diverse initiatives undertaken by SPE have made young people more aware of career opportunities in plastics, increased support for students seeking technical and professional training and made first-time participation in industry activities easier and more attractive," said Russell C. Broome, Managing Director of SPE. "As a result, student membership in SPE has grown considerably and now accounts for at least 17% of our total membership."

Students from 33 U.S. colleges and universities have formed SPE student chapters, and there are now such chapters in China and Saudi Arabia, as well. Also on the increase is student participation in the annual SPE ANTEC, the world's largest plastics technical conference.

"SPE recognizes the importance of starting to educate our future workforce as early as possible and staying engaged as they hopefully progress through a career in the plastics industry," said Broome. "We have expanded programs and offerings for the primary STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] education system and through our partner universities. Next we will focus on closing the gap for those transitioning from high school into secondary education in hopes of recruiting more future plastics industry employees."

Some of the benefits include free student membership in SPE and SPI, who now share the membership costs for students who are U.S. citizens. The program also provides increased scholarship funding, student loan debt relief, free online posting for job seekers, an online community for students and much more.

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