Where Are All The American Apprentices?

What will happen when the skilled workers retire? Unless action is taken, things could get very interesting.
EAST RANDOLPH, Vt. - March 23, 2013 - PRLog -- What will happen when all those highly skilled workers retire from the plastics industries? Unless something is done, now, there will exist a huge vacuum with few new workers able to fill the needs.
Consider for a moment that it takes at least 5 years of on-the-job training to become reasonably adept at building a plastic injection mold. How many young people do you personally know who are in this type of training? Most likely the answer is zero.
Twenty years ago today
Years ago, say 20 years ago, there were many excellent programs around the United States that offered training for new mold makers and mold designer. These days it is hard to find very many at all.
The injection mold making trade has experienced a dramatic transformation over the past 20 years, which only makes the problem worse. With the advent of CNC machine tools companies have had to focus their attention on learning new technologies, training operators, learning to make molds in a different manner compared to the past.
Hello CNC
This emphasis on CNC has been necessary, yet it has also allowed the other aspects of the trade to be neglected. If, for example, you estimate that 80 percent of the work is done by CNC machines, there obviously remains the 20 percent.
This other work consists of precision surface grinding, polishing, fitting by hand, and trouble shooting. It is precisely these skills which have been ignored, for the most part.
More on mold making: http://global-plastic-injection-molding.com/plastic-injec...
Graying workforce
It is also true that the old-timers who have had decades of experience are now in their 60's or even 70's. Very few young people are even inclined to learn these skills, much less enroll in an apprenticeship program to undergo a thorough, intentional training that takes years.
Lack of political will
Some countries, such as Singapore, have extensive government backed programs to advance the plastic injection mold making trades. The incentives offered enable start-up companies to prosper and help established companies to expand.
The United States, on the other hand, seems to talk the talk but not walk the walk. Every re-election season seems to spawn new and improved declarations of restoring American manufacturing, yet the platitudes are soon forgotten and the next political crisis takes precedence.
Individual companies make the difference
Private companies can make a difference and are doing so. By working with local businesses and schools some companies have taken matters in their own hands and begun to see real results.
Unfortunately, it is rather late in the game to expect any fast turnaround in attitudes and results.
Only by persistence and innovation can the approaching skilled labor crisis be averted.
Molding is still a good business: http://global-plastic-injection-molding.com/is-the-inject...
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Tags:Industry, Manufacturing, Plastics, Design, Injection Molding
Industry:injection molding
Location:East Randolph - Vermont - United States
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