"Why Reinvent the Wheel?"

The American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) is developing a toolkit for members looking for workforce development guidance.

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Just in time for Manufacturing Day (or month) festivities, the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) has delivered to its members the first of several components to an exclusive workforce development toolkit: The AMBA Guide to Community and Student Plant Tour Events. Manufacturing Day is officially October 6 this year, by the way. See my blog, “Turn Up the Experience!” to learn more. I chatted with Kym Conis, AMBA managing director, to find out how this toolkit project got started and why.

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“We’ve been exploring this idea for a while, and finally made a commitment to making it happen,” she says. “This is intended to be a resource–an educational outreach toolkit—for our members. The board of directors decided that since there are so many things that several of our AMBA members are currently doing to bridge the skills gap, it made sense to compile these plant-tour best practices for all members to benefit by. Why reinvent the wheel?”

Conis says the AMBA’s number one priority right now is workforce development, and in fact, in the introduction to the plant tour events guide, it says, “In the 2017 Business Forecast Study conducted by the AMBA, 100 percent of participating mold builders indicated that workforce develop­ment challenges were one of the top three issues their companies faced.”

“One of the ways we work to support our membership is by inviting member companies to share best practices via our popular plant tour events,” she says. “The plant tours help our members learn how fellow members are utilizing technologies and optimizing their capabilities. Another piece of that equation is helping our members find and retain the workforce they need to remain successful, so we began assembling this toolkit.” The plant tour guide provides step-by-step instructions for how to successfully host an event, including a timeline and checklist. From when and how to begin developing a guest list and planning committee to sending invitations and marketing the event to developing the agenda, scripts, shop tour route and more, it’s all spelled out very clearly in the guide. Even suggestions for media relations, shop décor and information packets for guests are discussed, all the way to writing thank you notes after it’s all said and done. “Three final key thoughts: Start and end on time, take pictures and engage and have fun!”

I asked Kym who participated in assembling all of the valuable material and she told me, “Anyone who is currently doing these plant tours and feels it’s successfully engaging youth, teachers and parents. We asked them to answer some survey questions and then asked them to sit down with us and share their models. It’s a long process, and it took many steps to gather all this information, but once we did we were able to put together this best-practices guideline.” AMBA members companies who were looking for help were asked to review the guide prior to printing to ensure every detail was covered, she says.

The guide will eventually be loaded into a “members only” page on the AMBA website, with more toolkit materials, like videos that can be used by members during tours and at trade events. Conis says the AMBA is also updating its website, vision and mission statements, as well as other resources. “We’re looking to better fit the way our members access information online. There will be less words, more graphics, and we’re thinking about how we can use social media to reach broader audiences,” she says. The new website is expected to launch in Q1 2018.

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