PMMI U Rolls Out Tools to Bridge the Skills Gap

PMMI members have new resources to help find and recruit talent, as well as educate and develop the current workforce.

By 2025, nearly 3.5 million jobs will become available in the manufacturing industry as baby boomers retire and other workforce matters such as turnover and competition occur. But the more unsettling statistic is that more than 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled, according to Deloitte’s Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing 2015–2025 outlook.

The shrinking talent pool is an issue many packaging and processing OEMs have been dealing with as they face competition from other industries within manufacturing to secure talent. Some OEMs have already found their groove when it comes to sourcing skilled workers and retaining their current workforce. But for many, the impending generational workforce shift is a looming dark cloud that grows year after year. 

PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, recognizes that the skills gap will directly impact a manufacturer’s ability to meet customer demands, implement new technologies, expand internationally and innovate and develop new products. So this year, PMMI U debuted a suite of new tools to help its members bridge the skills gap and grow their business from the inside. 

Build your workforce
PMMI U designed its own job board, CareerLink, to help member companies connect with students and veterans from across the country who are interested in employment in the packaging and processing industry. 

The job board, made possible with the help of a $50,000 grant from the Bosch Community Fund, allows PMMI members to post positions and job seekers to search and apply for a wide range of positions that cover all departments—from sales to field service technician to engineering. The goal is to foster relationships with educational institutions and market the industry to prospective employees and students, as well as help skilled workers find opportunities. 

Have an available opportunity at your company? Post it on CareerLink by visiting: oemgo.to/careerlink

“The biggest thing that we hear from our members is about the impending skills gap,” says Kate Fiorianti, PMMI’s education manager. “Our members are having a difficult time finding new employees, and our partner schools report that it’s been difficult to connect graduating students with opportunities in manufacturing. So we wanted to create this platform where we can really bring those two entities together and bridge the divide.” 

Employers have easy-to-use templates and tools that help them manage the position posts and incoming resumes. And applicants can search by job function or location. 

“Members like that the platform is really intuitive, and we have already seen students get hired through the board,” Fiorianti says. “Students love that they have a job board where they can see local positions as well as opportunities in other states.”

Another way OEMs are growing and recruiting their workforce is by hiring interns and participating in apprenticeship programs. PMMI U has also created a talent toolkit to assist member companies with these endeavors. The kit includes guides for developing a successful internship program and hiring veterans, as well as must know information about state tax credits and tuition support for hiring apprentices. F.R. Drake, for example, is successfully leveraging a state-sponsored apprenticeship program. 

Access these guides:

Train your workforce 
Adding to the complexities of finding skilled workers is securing talent that has the necessary skills to meet the demanding needs of manufacturing plants today. When Deloitte surveyed manufacturers about their current workforce, 70 percent said that more than 60 percent of their workforce lacked basic technical training, math skills, problem solving skills, and technology and computer skills. Given these statistics, the survey also reported that 64 percent of manufacturers find external training and certification programs to be one of the most effective workforce development strategies.

To adapt to the demand for increased training, PMMI U is introducing new courses and certification programs that provide industry-specific training for PMMI member companies. 

One of these courses, called Introduction to Field Service, focuses on the non-technical part of being a field service technician. In this course, techs learn the importance of listening, communicating effectively and providing great customer service. The main goals of the two-day course are to remind technicians that they are the face of their organization in their customer’s eyes and teach them skills to build relationships with customers, according to Stephan Girard, PMMI’s director of education and workforce development. 

“When we were creating this course, we were trying to identify some resources to get an idea of the soft skills that entry-level technicians might need, and we couldn’t find anything out there, so we created one for our membership,” Girard says. “While this is aimed more toward the entry-level technicians, it could really help a technician who has been in the industry for a while but wants to improve their communication and customer service skills.” 

The course was piloted during this year’s PACK EXPO East and received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants, Girard says. The first open enrollment class for member companies will be held during PACK EXPO International, Oct. 14-17 in Chicago, Ill. PMMI will also offer this as an in-plant course so that manufacturers can have all of their service technicians trained in their location. 

Learn more about training opportunities to upskill your team offered by PMMI during PACK EXPO International by visiting: oemgo.to/packpmmiu

Another program that PMMI has in the works is a sales training certification. This course will teach sales people the technical aspects of the packaging and processing industries by looking at the different types of equipment offerings, including information around functionalities, materials and benefits of each machine. The early feedback that PMMI has gathered shows that end-user customers prefer dealing with OEM sales professionals who have a strong knowledge and understanding of technology. 

But the solutions-based program will also teach participants how to sell and listen to customers and their needs. PMMI will work with procurement representatives at CPG companies and sales teams from member companies to ensure the training is effective and comprehensive. Girard says he anticipates the program will be ready in 2019 and OEMs can stay updated on the course’s debut by visiting PMMI U On the Road or signing up for PMMI’s member newsletter, The Conveyor.

Find out what upcoming training classes PMMI U has scheduled, and learn how your company can sign up: oemgo.to/pmmiuevents

“We will continue to add more courses and programs as we grow the PMMI U On The Road brand,” Girard says. “Anywhere that we can have an input or be able to assist our members, we can create resources. We hope to get more people into this industry with the toolkit and programs we have built.”

Of course, these programs require participation to be most effective. Are you using your PMMI membership to the fullest? Gain access to more workforce development tools and other association offerings for members by visiting, pmmi.org. To learn more about becoming a PMMI member, visit: pmmi.org/join