A Day to Celebrate the Finishing Workplace

Workforce Development, National Surface Finishing Day is a Way to Celebrate our Industry

There isn’t a plating or powder coating operation I’ve visited over the past eight years that doesn’t have one thing in common: a lack of quality talent to add to their workforce. It’s a conundrum that is both rosy and thorny because the booming economy has created a 49-year low in unemployment. Moreover, the U.S. Bureau of Labor reports that the flood of new jobs is contributing to the fastest pay increase for workers in over nine years, with average worker pay rising 6 cents in November to $27.35 an hour.

“If you have less labor, you’re going to have less growth, unless it's compensated by more technology or higher productivity,” says Wayne Winegarden, an economist and senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, in a recent Washington Post article. Since there isn’t a lot of technology ready to jump in and replace line workers and managers, those in the finishing industry need to pay heed to what they can do to maintain its existing staff, as well as look for ways to attract more individuals to the surface finishing field.

In this month’s edition, we take a look at two different approaches to the workforce issues faced by many plating and coating operations. The first is training and certifications in the finishing industry to see how they\ develop a trained and competent workforce that will stay in the industry—or even in the same company—for years. We take a look at training programs for the plating industry and how the Certified Electroplater Finisher (CEF) certification helps some shops develop and keep talent that otherwise might stay for a few years before taking their leadership and technical skills elsewhere, often to a different manufacturing sector.

We also look at the liquid and powder coating industry, which through a partnership with the Chemical Coaters Association International and the Workshops for Warriors organization are developing a coating education program for 2019 that will train veterans, wounded warriors and transition service members into advanced manufacturing careers, including finishing.

Which leads to an initiative that Products Finishing is launching to partner with plating, anodizing, liquid and powder coating facilities to celebrate the importance of surface finishing to manufacturing and to the U.S. economy.

National Surface Finishing Day will be celebrated on Wednesday, March 6 and subsequently the first Wednesday of March hereafter. It is a day for job shops, OEMs, suppliers and others in the industry to celebrate their place in the manufacturing cycle, and educate schools, businesses and local officials about the importance of surface finishers in the community by providing much-needed support services to other major manufacturers, as well as providing jobs and growth opportunity to residents. It’s also a good way to reinforce to your shop or facilities employees just how important their job is, and how vital their services are to the community in which they live.

How can your facility celebrate National Surface Finishing Day? Good question, and we’ve hopefully mapped out everything for you. If you visit Products Finishing’s website at pfonline.com/zones/nsfd/, you will find a kit to help with everything your facility will need to put on a National Surface Finishing Day event that involves employees, the community and the local news media.

The kit includes a manual that maps out what you need to do to plan the event and a schedule of when to start planning. We’ve included ideas on how you can celebrate with your employees, how to invite local trade schools and training facilities to tour your operation, and how to bring in local businesses and leaders to visit your facility and see what you do. Additionally, we’ve included sample press releases, tips on getting publicity in your local media and ways to continue to shine a light on your operation all year round.

We have patterned our approach after the successful Manufacturing Day, which does a great job of showcasing the importance of the industry in the U.S. economy, as well as providing a recruiting tool for potential employees.

We hope your shop and facility will take part in National Surface Finishing Day. In this day and age, if you don’t toot your own horn, no one will do it for you. It seems every finishing shop I have visited in the past shows an example of entrepreneurship, technology and pride, and showing that off to schools, businesses and politicians is a smart thing to do. It’s just one day a year, but it gives your shop the chance to take a bow. Because it is certainly well deserved.