Finishing companies are finding it more and more difficult to find qualified employees. There is one answer...
A task force of executives from a variety of companies in the Los Angeles region met to figure out how to improve recruiting and how to find the talent needed to remain competitive. The group included such big companies as IBM, Hughes Aircraft, Xerox and Atlantic Richfield Company.
The executives concluded that finding qualified employees was a top priority. However, when they reviewed the slate of eligible employees, they found few had the training and education to qualify for employment with their companies.
Finishers are finding themselves in the same situation. In a small, unscientific survey of finishers, several indicated that the biggest hindrance to their companies' growth is finding qualified employees, both technical and entry level.
Dean of the Engineering Technology Division at Lima Technical College, Lima, Ohio, Norman Rex, and representatives from local finishing-related companies recognized this several years ago. Together they developed a finishing program that graduated its first two students this spring. Each student earned a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Finishing Technology. There are eleven students in the program and 30 potential students for the 1997-98 school year.
According to Mr. Rex, the primary objective of the program is to provide qualified technicians for the finishing industry who can design, support, service and manage production processes.
The industrial finishing program covers plastics/polymers; safety, health and environment; metal pretreatment; organic coating technology and application; inorganic coating technology and application; and a finishing system design project. The major is supported by classes in basic robotics, manufacturing processes, properties of materials and quality science in manufacturing.
David Brown, presently the coordinator and only instructor in the program, helped design the finishing curriculum along with the assistance of an active industrial advisory committee from the Lima area. Mr. Brown previously worked as a project engineer at MetoKote, a major custom coater headquartered in Lima, Ohio.
MetoKote has also helped the program by donating a salt spray chamber for testing finished panels and small parts. A number of other finishing industry suppliers have helped with scholarships and equipment and chemical donations. The equipment and chemicals are used for teaching demonstrations, and the students use them in the lab. Students spray paint, plate parts with zinc and nickel, operate robots, test for corrosion resistance and cure coatings, among other processes. (See Table I)
"This is a unique program," commented Mr. Brown, "because of the industrial involvement." This year Mr. Brown has a work study student from Industrial Powder Coatings (IPC) in Norwalk, Ohio. The student spends the school year at Lima Tech and works summers at IPC. IPC is paying the student's tuition as well. "IPC would like to work it out so that it sends us a new student each year," noted Mr. Brown.
Lima Tech and Mr. Brown are also working with Lima Senior High School and Wesley Industries Division of Flint Coatings, Flint, Michigan. Flint Coatings is a minority-owned business working to encourage minority interest in the finishing industry. The company is working with juniors and seniors at the high school to interest them in the Industrial Finishing program at Lima Tech.
The Industrial Finishing Technology Program at Lima Tech offers students the opportunity to explore professional options based on their abilities. It offers employers a source of able, enthusiastic and well-trained employees to fill tomorrow's plating, coating and finishing jobs.
|TABLE I—IFT Program Industrial Donations and Discounts (at the time of publication)|
|BASF Corporation — Wet-paint technical instructors' seminar for David Brown.
ITW DeVilbiss — Automatic and manual spray guns, respirators, filtering systems, pressure tanks and pots and other equipment.
Ferro Corporation — Four convection batch ovens, powder manufacturing mixer, powder manufacturing extruder, heater, conveyor and powder.
Herberts O'Brien Powder coating.
HunterLab — Color Theory/Appearance Seminar for David Brown; discounted table-mount spectrophotometer.
Lufran Inc. — Four, Teflon-coated immersion heaters and controllers.
March Coatings — Harshaw salt spray cabinet.
Maxon Corporation — Premix blower/mixer and shutoff valve for curing ovens.
Morton International — Powder coatings.
Nordson Corporation — Econo-Coat manual powder coating spray systems; powder coating guns and related supplies; technical data; curriculum; video supplies; and scholarships.
PPG Industries — Seventh Generation non-HAPS, non-VOC cathodic electrocoating.
PTC — ABS plastic for a plating on plastics course.
Henkel Surface Technologies — Full supply of pretreatment chemicals: alkaline cleaners; acid cleaner; zinc phosphate activator; zinc phosphate; iron phosphate; Alodine chrome conversion; non-chrome sealer; miscellaneous titration supplies.
Pavco —Plating chemicals.
Plating Specialists — Plating Hull cell and plating Hull cell rectifier; discounted plating supplies.
Powder Coating Institute — Scholarships.
Quin-Tec, Inc. — Plating chemicals.
Sundstrand Corporation — Laboratory work stations; hazardous/flammable materials storage cabinet; environmental containment systems, including four 50-gal drums; laboratory work tables; digital scales; electrical power source; storage cabinet; storage shelves.
APR Plastic Fabricating — Discounted plating and chemical pretreatment tank system.
BYK Gardner — Discounted gloss meter.
CMI International Corp. — Discounted coating thickness gages.