Don't Tell Them, Show Them!

AMBA Chicago honors apprentices and learns that attracting the next generation requires added creativity and visual media that reflects the passion and potential of working in moldmaking.


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Apprentice Ryan Hassett (second from left) and fellow co-workers from Craftsman Tool and Mold, flanked by owners Laura and Wayne Sikorcin. Ryan won the Chicago AMBA's Mold Your Career Award.


It was an enlightening and festive evening for attendees of the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) Chicago Chapter “Mold Your Career Award” dinner meeting earlier this week, with a bright young man named Ryan Hassett of Craftsman Tool and Mold capturing the honors. Ryan was one of five apprentices nominated this year by Chicago area mold manufacturing companies and it was special to be able to see him smiling broadly and feeling proud that he was so valued at Craftsman.

Ryan began working at Craftsman in 2015 and is currently in his second year as an apprentice, taking classes at the Technology and Manufacturing Association (TMA) apprenticeship program and is on track to graduate in 2018. In his nomination form, so many positive qualities were highlighted about the young man, but I think the final sentence sums him up very well: “Ryan Hassett came to Craftsman Tool & Mold seeking not just a job, but a career. With a positive attitude, dedication, hard work, and some sacrifices, he has solidified himself as a quality apprentice, a top-notch employee, and a trusted coworker.”

I asked Ryan later what made him choose moldmaking as a career, and he replied that a friend told him about a job opportunity at Craftsman and that he should apply. “I thought I was going in there for a welding job or something,” he recalled, laughing. He said had no idea of the career opportunity that awaited him, but seeing Craftsman’s shop, the machinery, the culture and people must have resonated with him because look where he is now.

And that brings me to another interesting part of the evening: Skill Scout and recruiting the next generation workforce using visual job posting.

Elena Valentine, co-founder and CEO of Skill Scout, a workforce development company based in Chicago, Illinois, was the guest speaker at the AMBA Chicago awards night. Appropriate to the evening’s emphasis, her company has put a focus on working with manufacturing companies to help them more efficiently recruit qualified candidates to fill job openings. Elena and her team have worked with several Chicago-area companies, including mold shops Matrix Tooling Inc. in Wood Dale, A-1 Tool Corp. in Melrose Park, and PM Mold Co. Inc. in Schaumburg.

In a nutshell, Valentine told AMBA Chicago members that using video as a recruitment tool makes job postings more engaging, attracts higher quality candidates and helps decrease training and turnover costs. “The passionate leaders of this manufacturing industry really inspired us and have become not just our clients but our mentors in business. We’ve found that it’s not really what you make, but it’s who the people are behind what you do that really tell the story.”

Skill Scout introduced a new hiring approach, which it calls “experiential hiring.” She said the aim is to change the way candidates and the companies that are hiring experience each other, therefore making more effective hiring decisions. “These are your stories. You are dynamic; you have such a vibrant industry and you offer tons of opportunities for growth,” she said, adding the traditional scripted, bullet-pointed job postings leave a lot of questions unanswered about a company – it’s difficult to differentiate from other companies. Add to that the struggle to convince people outside of manufacturing that our work environments, our technologies, and our cultures are miles away from the “Upton Sinclair” era when facilities were dark, dingy, low-tech and often required brute strength to perform the work. So much has changed, and Skill Scout advocates the use of video to show young people, their parents and others the more advanced and clean environment we work in now. Millennials are very visual people, too, remember, and video plays to that on all forms of social media, from Craig’s List to Snap Chat, Twitter and beyond.

Check out this humorous video from Skill Scout and A-1 Tool called “What People Think I Do.” Then think about the potential of using video to attract your future workforce. Having walked through many mold shops over the years, I know there’s a lot of fascinating things to see!