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The wrap-up: Got a cool packaging job?

Automation jobs are cool, and my job is cool, too. Is yours?

One of automation guru Keith Campbell's latest posts at his On The Edge blog site showed some creative ways those involved in packaging automation were reaching out to avert a growing crisis while rewarding motivated, skilled operators and technicians with a dream job (see How cool is your job?)

As many have noted including us (Upskilling: Is your workforce packaging technology savvy?), there's a shortage of skilled workers exacerbated when that same shortage results in more automation.

This is a wake-up call that all is not well in American industry, especially as it relates to filling skilled production positions in the packaging industry. But it also spells opportunity for educators and students looking ahead at what Campbell refers to as "gold collar" jobs, where the pay and benefits are highly attractive. Cool jobs await those who make the commitment.

Campbell states that his job has been cool for more than 30 years. And, he says, "writing this blog is one of the coolest parts of my career."

I, too, have a cool job. I get to cover the latest packaging technology by visiting packaging operations and by interviewing some of the brightest people who use new technology—or creatively adapt "old technology" in new ways—to make packaging faster, more efficient, more sustainable, and/or just plain better.

I've long been impressed with interviewees' responses, frequently to detailed technical questions that seem to come out of left field—which can happen in a lively exchange. Their replies are often thoughtful, articulate, and clearly stated.

After the interview, I consider how fortunate the company is to have such a sharp and dedicated person…and how relieved I feel that I'm not their competitor! It's what helps make my job so cool.

Maybe you have a cool job, too? I'd like to hear about it, and it may provide material for a future column if that's okay with you. Just e-mail me at

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