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Taking Action

Shannon Wetzel, Managing Editor

Maintaining and fostering a vibrant, consistent and reliable workforce is critical to the success of any business. Unfortunately, the common refrain of metalcasting businesses is the shrinking number of qualified job candidates. Productivity and innovation are hurt when a business is not fully staffed, from the shop floor to the engineering department.

But, it is heartening to hear stories of metalcasting businesses that are not sitting idly by. In this issue, for instance, we share two reports of investments in training and developing metalcasters. In one, Signicast executive and innovator Walter “Terry” Lutz has donated more than $2 million to a local technical college and its Integrated Manufacturing Center. In another, AFS Corporate Member Benton Foundry is building a scholarship program to help send its employees to college. The generous program helps qualified employees advance their education for better career opportunities while increasing the knowledge and ability of its workforce.

Many foundries and suppliers are making similar pledges in their own local communities and workforces. And metalcasters are targeting pre-workforce-ready groups, too. AFS chapters in particular have enthusiastically introduced the science and career of metalcasting to elementary and high school students through hands-on metalcasting demonstrations. They are gaining steam. In just one example, a couple of high school students, inspired by one of these foundry-in-a-box presentations by the AFS West Michigan Chapter, centered their science fair project around metalcasting. The successful project took the two girls to the state competition, which was held earlier this month.      

Modern Casting is committed to sharing stories of how businesses and leaders are tackling the workforce challenge, so please continue to pass along how you and your fellow metalcasters are working to attract and retain a dynamic, hard-working pool of employees. In this issue, you will also read the first of a recurring new department highlighting individual colleges and universities with metalcasting programs. This month, we look at Michigan Tech University (page 67).

AFS also offers several resources to help businesses continue the education and training of current employees. AFS Institute skills training provide structured education on need-to-know topics while events like the annual Metalcasting Congress foster innovative thinking and idea generation. Along with its scholarship program, Benton Foundry has found value in using the AFS Institue e-Learning modules as part of its apprenticeship program and as a way to educate across departments.

Finding and attracting talent for the industry is not a jigsaw puzzle with a prescribed solution. The metalcasting community will have to continue to put the effort into using various approaches of encouraging people to join the industry and stay. I look forward to hearing and sharing more stories of building up metalcasting.  

Click here to see this story as it appears in the March 2018 issue of Modern Casting