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9/26/2014 | 3 MINUTE READ

New Initiative Aims At Workforce Development

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SPI and Tooling U-SME launch PlasticsU to provide online machinery training for production workers. Meantime, DME awards scholarship.


The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Tooling U have announced the launch of a new online training program aimed at closing the manufacturing skills gap in the plastics industry. Administered by Tooling U-SME, PlasticsU will serve the plastics industry by providing formal online training tailored specifically for the industry’s challenges and needs. Tooling U-SME is considered a leader in providing workforce development and training to the manufacturing industry,


“Our industry has some of the best and brightest workers, operating top-of-the-line equipment and technology,” said Bill Carteaux, SPI's president and CEO. “Unfortunately, many of the technological advancements made recently are being held back by a growing manufacturing skills gap, which is why SPI partnered with Tooling U-SME to launch PlasticsU.”


He adds, “The plastics industry will not realize its full capacity for growth and production unless companies take an active approach to workforce development. PlasticsU offers these companies flexibility and convenience to make this process easy.”


As recently as 2013, a vast majority of U.S. manufacturing companies reported being challenged by a moderate shortage of qualified workers for skilled production, as reported by SME. Volume alone is no longer the sole solution to increased productivity. Highly technical and specialized skills are required not only to meet increased demand, but to maintain growth into the future.


“By instituting a training program, companies can ensure they remain competitive today and into the future,” said Jeannine Kunz, managing director of SME’s Workforce and Education. “Creating a well-trained workforce can help improve quality, cycle time, communications, reliability and safety, while reducing costs and downtime/rework.”


Because SPI represents and supports such a wide range of the companies throughout the entire plastics industry, it partnered with Tooling U-SME to develop PlasticsU and provide a customized selection of courses and programs for areas specific to as many stakeholders as possible. With levels ranging from a basic introduction to the most advanced studies, courses include Interpreting Blueprints; Creating a Milling Program; Principles of Injection Molding; Measuring System Analysis; Rigging Inspection and Safety; and CNC Controls: GE Fanuc, Haas and Mazak.


Click here to learn more about PlasticsU and to sign up.


In another somewhat related development, DME Company, a leading supplier of hot runners, mold bases and a variety of other mold components based in Madison Heights, Mich.,  has awarded a $1,000 DME Plastics University scholarship to a senior student at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Teng Yang (photo below), who hails from Oshkosh, Wis, received the scholarship for the fall 2014 semester at UW-Platteville. It is the second time Yang has been named a recipient of the scholarship. He is the second student to be awarded the DME Plastics University Scholarship twice since the program's inception.



Each year since 2008, DME has offered this scholarship program to help finance, encourage and support the future of qualified students who have interest and potential in moldmaking, plastics and related career fields.


“DME is committed to advancing training and education within the plastics industry by continuing to support the DME Plastics University Scholarship Program,” said Dean Froney, DME v.p. and GM. “As one of the preeminent leaders in the industry, it’s both our obligation and in our best interest to help develop and groom tomorrow’s moldmaking and plastics industry experts.”


o qualify for the scholarship, students must be enrolled in a plastics program at any accredited trade school or university with a two-year certificate, two-year associate or four-year bachelor’s degree program. Applicants who are enrolled in related coursework are also considered if they demonstrate a strong academic emphasis and interest in plastics.


Along with an application, students are required to submit a transcript, personal statement and recommendations for review. The DME Plastics University Scholarship Program selection committee considers a variety of factors including academic achievement, interest in the field and personal qualities to determine the winners.


DME and other major manufacturers continue an attempt to combat the trend of students shying away from manufacturing disciplines. With an aging population of skilled workers, the plastics industry is facing a major human resources challenge. The scholarship program is just one of the ways DME is taking action to support the ambition of college students who have shown interest in the plastics industry.


The company also offers grants and scholarships to its customers for continuing education, an extension of the popular DME Plastics University on that was created to aid new plastics industry students and professionals.


DME scholarship applications for the spring 2015 semester are available here.