Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Fox News Uncovers Plastics Industry Secret: We Have Good Jobs Open now


Shortly after opening an August 30, 2011 TV news report by talking about the tragedies of high U.S. unemployment, John Roberts of Fox News abruptly pivoted: “But here’s a bizarre twist. While millions of people can’t find work, there are many American companies who can’t find people to fill open jobs. Thousands of jobs. Good paying jobs,” he said.

That news must have surprised most of Roberts’ audience – but not those in plastics processing or toolmaking. We’ve had good jobs going begging for years. Kudos to Fox for going directly to successful manufacturing companies and turning the spotlight on the core issue: the lack of people with the right skills.

At Gentex Corp in Zeeland, MI, which makes “smart” rearview mirrors for cars and high-tech windows for Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner, among other things, Fox noted that the “Now Hiring” sign has been out front for more than a year. Gentex’s VP of human relations Bruce Los said, “Our problem is finding people who are qualified to work in this environment.” He meant engineers with advanced degrees and highly skilled technicians.

The Fox reporting team then visited the MGS Mfg. Group at its headquarters in Germantown, WI. MGS is a multi-location injection molding and toolmaking specialist with strong engineering capabilities. Its HR director Tricia Hambly said she is trying to fill 30 open positions. “We can’t find people to fill the jobs. We need skilled labor, and we just can’t find it.”

In the Fox video, Hambly says that even if they didn’t have an opening, they would hire a skilled person if they found one. In its nine facilities, MGS molds plastics for razors, cellphone faceplates, sports mouthguards, and a whole lot more, including sophisticated medical devices. For example, it was involved in the four-piece, multimaterial, in-mold assembled Hospira iSecure Syringe that won the Industrial Design Society of America/Plastics News Design Award at the International Plastics Design Competition held during the NPE2009 Show.

John Berg, head of marketing at MGS, thinks competitively, telling Fox that with its high tech engineering and innovation, one MGS person can do as much as ten Chinese workers. Fox reported that operating the MGS machines takes special skill, and was impressed by robots putting fasteners into a just-molded splash skirt for a bumper.

Berg told Fox News that to keep that machine running, MGS needs, “A 2D and 3D part designer. A mold designer, a programmer, a pather, a number of different toolmakers. CNC machinists. We need a process engineer, material handlers, mold setup technicians, press operators, and maintenance people to make sure the system runs.”

The word is getting out, which is good, and programs are being put forward to show young people that the manufacturing environment is not only pleasant to work in, but what you get to do is as cool as designing a video game. Correction, it’s cooler.


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