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Moldmaking may be known as a one-off industry, but that is not an accurate description of the current employment landscape across many mold shops. Those who are under 30 are entering and staying in this niche trade. And, I am not just talking about one noteworthy individual—I am seeing multiple workers under 30 making an impact across the shop floor in everything from engineering departments to human resources and marketing.

For example, A1 Tool Corp., Westminster Tool, Ameritech Die & Mold, Franchino Mold & Engineering and Mantz Automation are a handful of shops in this feature that employ numerous under-30 workers and that nominated more than one under-30 employee who made the honoree list. The question is: How are these shops able to attract and retain the next generation of moldmaking professionals?

“Retaining a younger crew starts with selection,” Ameritech Die & Mold Program Manager Mark Rotman says. “It is important to choose employees who have a natural curiosity for what we do. If they do not have the excitement for the trade initially, it is not likely going to change. We spend a minimum of seven weeks evaluating select candidates to make sure we have had a good opportunity to evaluate them. This also provides a great opportunity for them to evaluate us as well.”

Company culture is also an intentional strategy among these five shops, as they have found it has a direct impact on retaining a young crew. Culture can take various forms, including offering unconventional perks that cater directly to the social and economic needs of under-30 employees, such as no-cost health insurance, an on-site meal program and gym access with a trainer. Culture can also mean an environment set up to train someone with no skills, continuous learning opportunities, a focus on leadership skills, commitment to work/life balance, community involvement and open communication that encourages idea sharing and feedback among all employees.

In the end, having youth in a shop feeds on itself. The more young people that a shop employs, the more attractive it is for young people to join that workforce because they see what their peers are capable of achieving in only a few years of employment. Young people observe the job enjoyment and fulfillment of their peers and are amazed by the technology available to their peers.

Now, let me introduce some of these next-generation moldmakers who made MoldMaking Technology’s inaugural 30-Under-30 honoree list.

And the 2018 30-Under-30 Honorees are: