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20 PCB007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2020 Brask: IPS has for years now been inter- acting with the uni- versities and the trade schools to build up a labor pool that we could hire from. We support Southwest Applied Technology College and Southern Utah University. I'm one of the mentors for the curriculum, and we've introduced a plastic welding program there. We hire their industri- al maintenance electricians, welders, and fab- ricators. And the same with the university, you will see when we go through and look at my engineering department, everyone in that de- partment is a graduate of Southern Utah Uni- versity, except for one from Boise State. Close working relationships with education- al institutions come up again and again with companies successfully hiring skilled work- ers. A more surprising revelation is what Brask shares next: Brask: For us, a big move was going from Auto- CAD to SolidWorks. Once we decided to transi- tion in 2014 to SolidWorks, suddenly, our hir- ing opportunities opened because of all the stu- dents coming in with this skill. Our ability to make them productive is quick because once they know how to draw within SolidWorks, they can draw stuff and do sketches and de- signs with direction, and we start spoon-feed- ing them from there. Next, Matties asks about IPS's customers and their experiences in finding skilled labor, and Brask what his company is doing: Brask: They're doing similar things. TTM is a good example, as well as others, with their in- ternship programs. They're actively involved in bringing chemical engineers and new blood into our industry, and we're working with cus- tomers like that to support their projects. Our new and senior engineers work on projects with these interns. Hopefully, they bond so that the percentage that stays in our industry can grow together—but we must retrain. We must get these new engineers familiar with all the processes so the software and tooling can advance with the technology. The shift at IPS from one CAD tool to an- other is telling. Normally, CAD tools are re- placed with new platforms to introduce new design features critical to the design team, or so the thinking goes. What if the critical fea- ture is a competent human operator for the CAD tool? Brask's team has picked up on this realization. Brask wasn't the only one to share insights about his hiring criteria. In the November 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine, I caught up with Sunstone Circuits' Sheri Kuretich, HR manager, and Nancy Viter, vice president of operations. In that conversation, we dove deep into how hiring and staffing have changed for a quick- turn board house over the past few years. They note that while walk-ins have significantly di- minished, finding talent through local commu- nity colleges has been a gold mine. Kuretich: The biggest change over the past five years is how we hire. We used to have a lot of walk-ins. People would drop off their appli- cations often enough that we had a full fold- er, but now, we're lucky if we get two or three walk-ins each month. Today, the internet al- lows for online recruitment opportunities, and we receive a lot of responses that way from di- verse candidates. We're currently hiring for a position where we're talking to people in com- pletely different areas, but they have relevant experience to the circuit board industry, so it's pretty exciting when those individuals become a part of our selection pool. There aren't many circuit board shops left in the Pacific North- west, so it's not that often that we have an ap- plicant with direct circuit board experience un- less we're open to looking into people in other geographical areas. If we can get people with a manufactur- ing and production background who have an aptitude for learning the technology to build Mike Brask

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