A new program is engineered to attract future workers to the food processing and packaging industry.
PMMI: The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies has kicked off JumPPstart. The initiative calls on member companies to pitch in and help avoid a future talent shortage by attracting young workers to the field.
Timm Johnson, vice president of sales and marketing for Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery (and chair of PMMI’s Education and Workforce Development Committee) said a negative perception of a career in manufacturing could be an underlying issue.
“Kids have no idea how the Cheerios get in the box, so our starting point is exposure and education,” he said. “There’s a popular perception of factory work as dirty, hot and boring, but the reality is machinery manufacturers’ plants are clean and air conditioned, with new machines and challenges every day.”
Maria Ferrante, vice president of Education and Workforce Development for PMMI, said the shrinking pool of available talent is a widespread concern, but each JumPPstart group aims at the problem locally.
“Participants realize the overall benefit their collaboration will have: to schools, students, the industry and even the economy, and they’re willing to work together to achieve it,” she said. “They’re also local employers, hiring from a pool of local workers.
“JumPPstart efforts will foster the relationships that help build a pipeline for candidates.” Ferrante added.
PMMI is helping to organize groups, but the program will rely on volunteers to get the job done.
“Only local employers can truly understand what will work in their area,” she said.
The first two meetings launched in the Midwestern US: one in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and the other in Milwaukee, WI.
Richard Bahr, president and CEO of MGS Machine Corp. , hosted the Minneapolis meeting. He said the need to get young workers excited about a career in packaging and processing is crucial.
“Much of the training and infrastructure for education of people is in place, but educators struggle to create interest in their programs for new students,” he said. “This has been a long-term problem that is getting worse: parents and educators steering children away from manufacturing careers.”
Bahr added that the goal of the JumPPstart program is long-term, but there’s no time to begin line the present.
“The trend is not in our favor to attract new people to manufacturing careers, so we must be intentional and push against this,” he said.
To learn more about the JumPPstart program or find out how to start a group, email Ferrante at firstname.lastname@example.org.