Rubber & Plastics News compiled its 10 biggest stories from 2018, and we counted them down in our Dec. 10 print issue. We'll be running them online each workday until the end of the year.
8. Industry continues to recruit
The rubber industry can trace its roots back a long way.
But sooner or later, all that experience will exit the work force, and leaders throughout the industry have made recruiting and educating the next generation a high priority.
Joe Walker of Freudenberg-NOK said at the International Silicone Conference in May that the industry must adapt in order to attract young talent, stressing that work force development is the linchpin to competitiveness.
Cleveland-based Custom Rubber Corp. is taking action by partnering with Shaker Heights High School to develop Raider Manufacturing—a program named after the school's mascot that will allow students to work up close with an industry customer and create a product. Custom Rubber President Charles Braun said his long-term goal is to make this a student-run manufacturing company.
It's still in its infancy, and Braun does not expect to personally hire everyone from the program. He said it's not about who hires what student, but enhancing the pool to fill the overall talent void.
The University of Akron also is boosting its College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering by increasing funding to potentially hire four new tenured faculty members. Some within the college question whether there is enough money behind the effort to make it fully effective.