New Technology Requires Advanced Workforce Training
Jeannine Kunz, Chief Workforce Development Officer, SME on
August 09, 2018
“Smart Manufacturing” has been a hot topic in industry over the past few years. So it’s not surprising that many manufacturers are experiencing challenges related to smart manufacturing technologies. According to the latest Tooling U-SME Industry Pulse: Manufacturing Workforce Study, 82 percent of respondents indicate that implementing smart technologies is going to be at least somewhat challenging over the next three years, while 41 percent say it will be very or extremely challenging.
But the challenge isn’t limited to smart manufacturing technology. More than 80 percent of respondents say implementing any type of new technology is going to be at least somewhat challenging. What’s more, the study shows that the challenge of new technology is closely related to the skills gap: 56 percent of respondents say the gap is impacting the introduction of advanced manufacturing technologies and automation; 29 percent indicate it’s impacting the introduction of flexible, complex work systems; and 27 percent say it’s impacting the implementation of smart manufacturing technologies.
Finding new hires is challenging in this tight labor market. Upskilling the incumbent workforce becomes more critical in order to enable the implementation of smart technologies. The most effective way to accomplish upskilling is through a clear, systematic training process.
Consistent companywide training
As an example, let’s look at a carbide tools manufacturer that was experiencing a large skills gap between older employees and new technologies. The company needed to ensure consistent training across all locations and its entire workforce, including remote employees. In partnership with Tooling U-SME, the manufacturer implemented a company-specific online training program that all employees could access — anytime, anywhere. It also created an in-house computer lab that allowed employees to train during downtime. Results were positive, showing that the company’s formalized training program:
- Eliminated associates' time away from their stations, improving productivity.
- Increased employee participation in training and development.
- Integrated more new technology into operations and expanded their customer base.
- Decreased the gap between older employees and new technologies.
Systematic training process
In another example, a window and door manufacturer with an aging workforce needed advanced technology training for more than 7,000 employees across 13 manufacturing facilities. Working with Tooling U-SME, the company developed clear job titles and descriptions, placed team members into the right roles, and set up a systematic training process built upon accountability and commitment. As a result, the company garnered strong leadership support for ongoing employee training programs. It also grew relationships with local high schools and community colleges, in the process laying a strong foundation for a workforce pipeline. In addition, the company ramped up tech trades recruiting, tying it to key performance indicators.
Clearly, implementing new technologies goes hand-in-hand with developing employees for today and the future. To find out how we can help you build a “smart-ready” workforce, call 866.706.8665.
Subscribe to the Tooling U-SME Accelerate Blog and you’ll receive an advanced copy of the complete Industry Pulse: 2018 Manufacturing Workforce Report on Monday, September 10.
To read more about the results of our Industry Pulse: 2018 Manufacturing Workforce Study, click on the stories below:
Manufacturers Drive Productivity with a Skilled Workforce (July 31, 2018)
Workforce Study: Formalized Training Reduces Scrap and Rework (Aug 14, 2018)
Proper Training a Must for Employee Safety (Aug 21, 2018)
Product Quality Rises with Increased Workforce Training (Aug 28, 2018)
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