Workforce Development Initiatives in the Metalforming Industry

PMA’s METALFORM EDU Provides Training and Education Towards Career Advancement

The good news: the manufacturing industry is robust, and the outlook remains positive. Troubling news: many U.S. manufacturers are dealing with a sizable skills gap (which we recently wrote about). Better news: there is a rise in trade school enrollment. The best news: Larson is already involved in an active training program that educates people in the skills necessary to serve the metal stamping industry—let alone help them improve the quality of their individual lives.

Precision metalforming association workforce education

A joint study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute sheds vast insight on the larger issue. Some finer details are that it takes, on average, 70 days to recruit skilled production workers. The report also informs us that: 

“Sageworks, a financial analysis firm, revealed that trade schools are enjoying trends that are exactly the inverse of those currently plaguing the college sector. From 2006 to 2007, revenue at trade schools saw collective growth of 5% to 6%. In the year between 2013 and 2014, that number was 12%. The U.S. Department of Education reports that while there were roughly 9.66 million students attending trade schools in 1999, an estimated 16 million were enrolled in 2014. In other words, trade schools are adding students roughly as fast as colleges are losing them.”


We have watched this trend play out for years and knew we had to do something about it from within the industry. Larson was a founding member of the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) and is very motivated to help the industry move forward and people advance within the industry. I personally serve on the educational committee for PMA and participated in the exploration into what types of online education platforms were currently on the market that would help the precision metal stamping industry, and which would be the best fit for PMA’s project. Eventually, PMA’s education committee—and a host of dedicated, hard-working people, many of whom are volunteers—created a comprehensive platform and launched METALFORM EDU in October 2018.

PMA’s vision is to improve workforce development—something we began discussing over a decade ago—and this particular education program is what evolved over time, and with a lot of collaboration. The response within PMA to make this happen was so positive that PMA staff and volunteers dedicated countless hours to bring this program to fruition. Training programs through PMA have existed for 30 years, but the model needed to be refreshed to meet the needs of a digital world.Metalform edu-workforce-matters

That meant:

  • Creating online access
  • Having the ability to update training videos as technologies change
  • Providing a perpetually evolving membership benefit

Varied Training for Career Advancement

In practice, and more so now than ever before, many industry leaders are willing to help train and help pay for continuing education for their employees. In fact, Larson was able to help pilot the program and has been successfully implementing it in our hiring and training program. This is a relevant, ongoing training platform—which can be modified in real-time—that companies maintain control over in terms of who can receive which courses. It is perfect for new hires and improves the onboarding process by decreasing the learning curve and building confidence in new employees. HR professionals and managers are able to help individuals who have an interest in learning new skills for career advancement.

METALFORM EDU doesn’t offer only production floor-related courses; it spans a host of training, including, but not limited to:

  • Press operation
  • Tool making
  • Engineering
  • Purchasing & procurement
  • Customer service
  • Finance
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Equipment design
  • Automation  

Real-World Success

Larson will be celebrating our 100th year in business very soon. As you might imagine, we’ve seen much, experienced more, and have adapted to—and at times anticipated and lead—changes in the precision metal stamping industry. The success we’ve had with our toolroom apprenticeship program has produced invaluable success for Larson, our employees, and ultimately, our customers. Promoting early interest in students who have natural aptitude for working with their hands or who are inclined to figure out the mechanics involved with how things work is another focus of Larson’s community outreach. Having successful mentorship and training examples such as these as a guidepost helped keep the vision of ongoing education in the forefront of our goals at PMA. The impact METALFORM EDU can have on the industry can be dramatic.

We’re confident about the impact METALFORM EDU can have because we have experienced the benefits of active workforce development initiatives for years at Larson. It’s vital, of course, to have a trained and skilled workforce, and it’s as important to create career paths and opportunities for people working in the metalforming industry. PMA and Larson share a long history in strengthening our commitment to training, and this is another milestone. Larson has some very valued employees who have started with us right out of vocational schools and have advanced ultimately to leadership positions. Our sales manager and automation specialist (who retired after 30 years) started out of technical vocational school. Our current VP, sales manager, and drawing lead are from vocational technical backgrounds. The metal stamping industry offers terrific opportunities for people—and with the right education and training, it will absolutely support successful and sustainable career paths.

What all this translates to is that—whether your next project requires progressive die stamping, deep drawing, in-die assembly, or value-added operations—our employees have expert skill sets and Larson is well-equipped to do the job. Find out first-hand and contact us now to see for yourself.