By Paul Ziegenhorn
October 13, 2010
It's been said that training is the lifeblood of an organization. Yet over the last few years, finding money for training and educational purposes has been a challenge. As our economy struggles to its feet, it's high time we realize that the only way an American manufacturer is going to thrive (or even survive) is to throw every available resource towards ensuring that his employees are better coached than the competition's. We can't wait for our government to level the playing field when it comes to free (and fair) trade. The core of the free market concept is rooted in competition driving us to improve quality and innovation, lower prices, and thus be able to sell more and grow. Our competitors in low cost manufacturing locations are using the same equipment that we do. In many cases, their workforce is younger, more hungry, and certainly more plentiful. How do you compete with that? By making sure your employee is thoroughly trained, in both the latest technology, and old world craftsmanship that can be passed down from the senior toolmakers and designers who built tooling prior to the age of computers. Old world craftsmanship is often not available in these low cost manufacturing countries.
The opportunity to get involved at the ground floor is an opportunity not to be missed. Apprenticeship programs are struggling, and if they are allowed to fail, we have failed. Opportunities abound in local vocational and career training programs for mentoring, donating time and resources, and ensuring that there is an influx of future talent for hire. Our company is active in numerous trade associations, including the Tooling and Manufacturing Association (TMA), the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA), Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), Illinois Manufacturing Association (IMA), the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP), to name a few.
So as manufacturers, we are left to our own devices to stay in the game. But without training, we are certain to have a more difficult time competing in the future than we currently do today.