Yolanda Simonsis is a 38-year veteran of the packaging and converting industries. She has held past editorial positions with two former publications of Delta Communications and Cahners...more

Be on Top of Your Game—Training Is Critical

I'm not in the habit of sending PFFC visitors to other blogs beyond those which we feature on the PFFC website, but sometimes I make exceptions.

PFFC celebrates 90 years. See us at key industry events.

The show season is beginning in earnest, and this year there are many huddled into a small timeframe. Hopefully you've budgeted properly for travel this year to ferret out opportunities for learning technology that supplements, renews, or upgrades knowledge and skills you've acquired either in school or on the job.

Education, I am convinced, is at the core of success for each person as well as our country. Only in late January, 24 executives met at the White House to discuss US manufacturing. They shared with the President that the problem is not a lack of jobs for American workers so much as it is a lack of skilled workers for available jobs. Basically, the problem is training.

And training is a perennial problem.

Back on January 28, 2016, Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Assn. of Mfrs., said in his remarks during a State of Manufacturing Tour at the Univ. of South Florida, Tampa: "Over the next decade, the United States will need to fill 3.4 million manufacturing jobs. But 2 million of those jobs are likely to remain empty because there’s a shortage of trained workers. It’s what we call the “skills gap,” and it affects all of us. . . through lost innovation, lower productivity and suppressed economic activity. The problem is especially disheartening given how hard it’s been lately for people to find jobs. Manufacturers want to hire, but many workers lack the skills—often the high-tech skills—we need. This is a lost opportunity. The average manufacturing worker earns over $79,000 annually. . . $15,000 more than the national average. . . ."

In an effort to improve the odds of landing jobs, yesterday Chicago-land learned from its Mayor Rahm Emanuel that in the interests of making our city's youth prepared for a future beyond high school he is recommending a requirement for Chicago public school students to get letters of acceptance from a two- or four-year college, a branch of the armed forces, or a trade program. Hopefully funding will follow in some capacity. I wonder, could the converting industry offer opportunities from an apprenticeship standpoint?

And what is the converting industry—one of the most successful manufacturing industries left in America—doing to train its present and potential workers?

The upcoming dearth of shows certainly provides ample opportunities for learning and getting a leg up on our technology of choice. I'd start my journey by visiting the following URLs as a preview to attendance at any of the shows below:

Start with H.A. Bruno's CPP Expo (Collaboration in Packaging Production), which is set to launch for the first time with ISA Intl.'s Sign Expo on April 19–21 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Convention Ctr. in Las Vegas, NV. You'll find information on this focused show by clicking here

ICE USA is a Mack Brooks-organized exhibition and conference debuting for the first time with the co-located show INPRINT USA, an industrial print show, as well as the inaugural Global Industrial Inkjet Conference. Check out ICE USA's's blog by clicking here and see PFFC's pre-show coverage by clicking here. This is the US's largest converting-dedicated show held biennially at the OCCC in Orlando, FL. On April 25–27 be sure to stop at the PFFC booth #1142 where PFFC will offer our first 90 visitors a delicious chocolate treat celebrating our 90th Anniversary in the converting industry.

The FTA annual Forum and INFO*FLEX Exhibition is sponsored by the strong backing of the Flexographic Technical Assn. This year it's being held on April 30–May 3 at the Sheraton Grand Phoenix/Phoenix Convention Ctr. in Phoenix, AZ. For a full preview of this targeted annual flexo favorite, find Forum conference details by clicking here and INFO*FLEX exhibition particulars by clicking here. PFFC show coverage is now available as well by clicking here. And be sure to visit PFFC's booth #226 on the INFO*FLEX show floor to receive a delicious chocolate treat celebrating our 90th Granite Anniversary covering the converting industry.

On the heels of these larger events, also learn at the In-Mold Decorating Assn.'s IML Basic Course in Chicago at the Doubletree North Shore on May 4, as well as the Intl. Assn. of Diecutting & Diemaking and Foil & Specialty Effects Assn.'s IADD-FSEA Odyssey at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Ctr. on May 17–19.

Remember, PFFC's Industry Calendar offers learning opportunities that go out as far as 2020. Be on top of your game by visiting

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