AMBA Survey Reveals Hiring Issues

Skills shortage, attitude and work ethic frustrate mold company owners.

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The Spring Business Forecast Survey of the American Mold Builders Association included questions concerning finding and hiring skilled workers. With business picking up and backlogs increasing, companies are on the hunt for skilled machinists, mold designers and moldmakers.

Nearly all of the respondents answered the request to list their top three hiring challenges. Some of the responses had common themes: attitude, skill level and experience were mentioned most often. 

Comments included: “1) Finding people with the work ethic we need. 2) Finding intelligent people who still want to work with their hands. 3) Finding people who still believe manufacturing is a legitimate, long-term career opportunity.”

Another commented: “CNC machinists with programming experience are hard to find. Finding experienced mold designers with ‘solids’ experience. Finding people that are willing to work second shift.”

One responded that challenges 1, 2 and 3 are: “Finding good people who can perform (do the work) at the level of efficiency and quality that they claim in the interview process.”

For another respondent it all boiled down to “Attitude. Attitude. Attitude.”

The competition for skilled workers is also heating up as mold manufacturers become busier. Several cited the fact that fewer people in the trade means fewer applicants and more competition for the available applicants.

Companies are getting creative in their search for employees. When asked where they have been finding skilled people or apprentices, many cited “networking” as the primary method they use to find skilled people. Others said advertising including newspapers and Craigslist; former employees; and contacting employees from companies that have gone out of business.

One respondent mentioned that apart from difficulty finding people with the skills required, “finding people that fit our culture” is another aspect of the search.

Mike Armbrust, President of the American Mold Builders Association, and general manager of Mako Mold corp. in St. Charles, IL, agrees: “We in our industry are having difficulty finding the skilled labor force our industry requires. Beyond the difficult of simply finding someone with the training and qualification required to perform the job at hand, finding someone that fits your company’s culture can prove to be as difficult and is often something that comes down to a ‘gut-check.’”

A mission of the AMBA is to encourage young people to enter the trade and to that end has revised its scholarship program to help facilitate education in moldmaking in the USA. Priority for the scholarships will be to assist students wanting to pursue a career in mold design, CAD/CAM programming for machine tools, machine tool skills or moldmaking; plastics industry manufacturing (including plastics engineering, plastic part design or plastics processing technicial).  Eligibility requirements and applications for the AMBA Scholarships can be found at www.amba.org – Membership and Benefits heading.

Various Chapters of the AMBA also provide scholarships for students in their specific areas of the country. The Minnesota Chapter, for example, has scheduled a meeting for May 24 at which the Chapter will be awarding four scholarships for $2,500 each. The Chapter is very active in promoting apprenticeships and supporting apprentices. These funds were raised by the Chapter’s annual Golf Outing, which has been a huge success over the last 15 seasons. This year’s golf outing will be held on July 21st, and the Chapter is challenging the industry to best last year’s attendance, and get over 100 participants through members, partners and suppliers to support this excellent scholarship program in Minnesota.