It seems like I see a new article everyday about the lack of skilled workers in manufacturing. Part of the problem is that a large portion of the workforce will be retiring soon, and there aren’t enough replacements. Also, middle and high schools are not promoting manufacturing as a career or, unfortunately, budgets are limiting schools’ enthusiasm.
There has been a recent effort among many schools and manufacturers to push STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs. These programs get students working hands on solving problems, such as building rockets, robots and other high-tech devices, and they have done a great job changing students’ connotations on manufacturing. STEM programs are an important first step, and their influence should be encouraged, but they are only a part of the solution.
Once a student is excited about a career in aerospace, medical devices or robotics manufacturing, for example, we need to provide them with the correct tools by leveraging new technology. New employees should be introduced to high-tech software with easy-to-follow, enhanced work instructions that display everything that they will need to perform a job.
Operations managers also need to modernize shop floor practices – such as incorporating quicker training practices and 3D-based instructions – to accommodate the incoming generation of workers, who are more accustomed to play video games than with Tinkertoys. Technology doesn’t solve all of the workforce problems though. Companies also need to capture the expertise from their most experienced employees to pass along to the new workers.
For a more in-depth look on the ways that companies can modernize their shop floors and attract new employees, take a look at the transcript from the webcast: “Are we ready for the new manufacturing workforce?”