‹ Back to Columns

Industry Stewardship Meets Workforce Development

Doug Kurkul

If you happened to be in Milwaukee in February for the AFS Wisconsin Regional, or in Savannah, Georgia, for the AFS Southeast Regional, you know they were informative, well-attended events, executed by committed volunteers, and supported by forward-thinking sponsors. The business networking that occurred at both events was tremendous. You likely noticed something else, as well, and an encouraging sign at that: increased levels of involvement by students and young professionals who participated in a number of ways, ranging from public speaking to exhibiting to networking. Continuing that positive trend, we expect a large turnout of students and future leaders at CastExpo, April 27-30 in Atlanta.

Those two events were a fresh reminder that a new generation of metalcasting technical and management employees is taking its rightful place in our industry.

Thank goodness that they are, as we are in the midst of the largest generational wave of retirements in American history, a phenomenon that has hit manufacturing industries like metalcasting especially hard. Some of today’s new hires may become the CEOs, chief engineers, production managers and sales directors of tomorrow.

In 2017, upon becoming AFS Technical Council Chair, Kathy Hayrynen (Applied Process) challenged AFS to better engage young people coming into our industry, including the students graduating from FEF universities. Kathy’s clarion call led to an AFS initiative titled, A Career Enriched by AFS Involvement. As part of this initiative, AFS is building upon existing programs and introducing new ones, all to emphasize that a career in metalcasting can be extraordinarily rewarding, and that involvement in AFS enriches metalcasting careers at every stage.  

This may begin at the pre-college stage, where young people may see a Foundry-in-a-Box type demonstration or read Melting Point magazine. During their college years, students may receive AFS or FEF scholarships, participate in AFS student chapters, attend FEF’s college industry event, take part in casting competitions, and attend CastExpo.

Once student-chapter members graduate, they can take advantage of a free first year of individual membership in AFS. The number of graduates taking advantage of that benefit has more than doubled in the past year. By getting involved in AFS earlier in their careers, these young people can explore the many benefits of other AFS programs including Future Leaders in Metalcasting, Women in Metalcasting, local chapter involvement, committee membership, AFS Institute educational classes and e-Learning, as well as networking at live events and online at Casting Connection.

The first step is of course to attract new individuals to the foundry industry. At AFS, our latest offering in this regard is a fast-paced, five-minute video in which nearly a dozen people, mostly in the first half of their careers, offer personal testimonies about why they love working in our $33 billion industry. The video can be found on YouTube by searching for “AFS metalcasting careers video.” More than 1,400 people watched it in the first three weeks of its debut. The target audience is students, parents, career counselors, educators and job seekers. We encourage you to view this new video and share the link with others who need to see it.

AFS takes its responsibilities for industry stewardship and workforce development seriously. We will continue to work with our members and other stakeholders to shape more accurate public impressions of modern metalcasting and to inform more people of the rewarding careers the foundry industry offers. 

Click here to see this story as it appears in the March 2019 issue of Modern Casting