Necessary Apprenticeship Trend

The impact of all of this has been a lack of focus to provide updated apprenticeship programs.

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Alot has happened over the last two decades, including the fact that there is a huge competitive environment. Not only did we see new U.S. shops spring up in the hey-days of the 80s and 90s, but globalization brought us a world of offshore competition.

The impact of all of this has been a lack of focus to provide updated apprenticeship programs. And while we’ve seen a number of shops go out of business, a lack of skilled employees continues to be a problem for our industry. This tells us that apprenticeship programs need some renewed emphasis on the trend toward the professionalism of our trade.

The days are gone where the apprentice was totally dependent upon the journeyman moldmaker to teach him the craft and train them in all the basic skills and knowledge to build a complete mold. Shops have evolved from days when a moldmaker was handed a roll of blueprints from which he took total control of the mold build from start to finish. Now teams of people who range from program managers, designers, surfacing/cutterpath producers, specialized machinists and manufacturing cell operators plan and follow progress with software. Everyone is involved in providing the customers with a complete manufacturing solution.

Young people coming into our shops today are college educated and have grown up in a computer-aided, high-tech world. They are eager to be recognized for the skills they bring into the company. They are not inclined to spend their first year running errands or standing around watching some journeyman. You’re wasting these Gen X talents if you have them drill holes on a drill press for six months before moving them onto CAD/CAM areas. Apprenticeship programs for today’s new mold shop employees have to be designed to engage these computer-savvy, college and trade-school educated young people right from the get-go. As they mature, they can be taught lessons in wisdom and the additional skills handed on by those who’ve served the trade for several decades.

It’s up to us to see that these young people are trained in a meaningful way that contributes not only to their personal career growth, but to the bottom line of the mold manufacturing businesses as well.