From the Editor
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Anyone who has taken the Underground in London is familiar with the warning for those waiting for the next subway train to “mind the gap.” Reading about the human resource gaps facing our industry and the struggles to maintain a skilled labor force brought to mind that familiar phrase. Like a harbinger reminding us to be vigilant, not paying attention to what needs to be done will put our companies, organizations and country in a precarious situation. It was very satisfying to see in the recent issues of Modern Casting (October 2018) and Metal Casting Design & Purchasing (November/December 2018) the articles on navigating careers, student outreach, job training and building leadership in order to stay ahead. As mentioned in the lead Modern Casting article, the 2015 Skills Gap Report published by the Manufacturing Institute in partnership with Deloitte noted that while there are 3.5 million manufacturing jobs likely needing to be filled in the upcoming decade between 2015 and 2025, an astounding 2 million are expected to go unfilled because of skill gaps.
This should not come as unfamiliar news to our industry segment as this need was also reflected and reported in that NIST sponsored Metalcasting Industry Roadmap conducted on behalf of the American Metalcasting Coalition by AFS. It is not only an issue of identifying workers with the skills set needed but also drawing students starting in grade school toward our industry to stimulate an interest in pursuing education and training that will lead to manufacturing careers. We know that our outreach efforts like foundry-in-a-box are well received by our local communities. Many AFS Chapters are dedicated to inspiring the next generation of metalcasters with hands on demonstrations, and the Saginaw Valley Chapter is one of them. Since October 2013, the chapter has held more than 80 events reaching roughly 32,000 students. The events produce ecstatic responses from students, parents and teachers.
“Our students loved learning about metalcasting,” said Lauren White, a fourth grade teacher at Havens Elementary, after the Saginaw Valley chapter brought in its metalcasting demonstration in January. “Many students had very little prior knowledge about the topic before the presentation, so they were eager to learn about the metalcasting process. This was such an amazing opportunity to learn something new from experts who live in their own community.”
But the training, networking and mentoring does not stop in grade school, high school or even college. It is an ongoing and lifelong process. The successful companies and organizations offer pathways for their employees and members to continue to grow. As mentioned by AFS Director Jim Frost in that Modern Casting issue, “What’s cool about both FEF and AFS is it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are-if you ask to help you will get plugged in.” So, help us fill the gap and become plugged in.