Get Smart: Train for Advanced Tech Skills

Posted By: Jeannine Kunz, Chief Workforce Development Officer, SME on March 08, 2018

Get Smart: Train for Advanced Tech Skills

Advanced Manufacturing Media recently explored the skills gap, including how it is impacted by quickly advancing technology.

For years, we have encouraged manufacturers — and provided tools for them — to take steps to stem the current and future loss of skilled workers. The reasons are familiar: experienced baby boomers are retiring, jobs are returning to the U.S., and the talent pipeline is not as robust as it once was.

But there is another very important reason manufacturers need to focus on building a strong team of skilled workers now: changing technology.

As I mention in the article, there are good jobs open (two million expected by 2025); however, applicants often don’t have the right skills to fill them. Skill sets have changed. Manual processes are being replaced, and today’s workers must be trained in everything from analytics to robotics.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Joseph Aoun, president of Northeastern University and author of “Robot-Proof,” was asked about providing a “robot-proof education.” He outlined three “curricula”:

  1. Technology literacy — understanding how machines work/how to interact with them
  2. Data literacy – how to organize and understand huge amounts of data
  3. Human literacy – adept at skills machines lack, from creativity to empathy

This three-point learning recommendation isn’t just applicable for college grads — it sums up the needs of today’s manufacturers for all levels. In this era of smart manufacturing, workers need the right alignment of skills to do the job.

Fortunately, advanced technology brings opportunities for workers. As Michelle Drew Rodriguez, Deloitte manufacturing leader, said in the article, “The workforce that used to have to do a lot of hard manual labor are helping solve bigger problems. They’re helping ID acute pain points. They know the process the best. It unlocks opportunities and helps create jobs that are more rewarding and exciting for them.”

We all know happy employees drive productivity and reduce turnover, saving money.

So that brings us to training. The truth is that many manufacturers purchase a piece of equipment and only tap into a fraction of its potential. Why? Because they haven’t invested in the training needed to ensure those working with the machine become experts in programming, setting up, operating and maintaining it.

For instance, a factory may add additive manufacturing but only a small number of workers may understand the technology. For productivity and financial gains, it is imperative that team members in all departments are fully trained to understand 3D printing. This includes employees working in maintenance, engineering, quality and inspection, programming and design. They all need new skills.

The bonus? Fully trained employees drive innovation. New knowledge and skills provide new thinking about how to solve existing manufacturing challenges.

Technology is accelerating at a pace faster than the pace of people development. Forward-thinking companies of all sizes are capitalizing on technology by developing the skill sets of their teams.

Smart manufacturing is here. Don’t just be smart — be brilliant — and ensure your company stays ahead of the competition by investing in the workforce of the future.

To see whether your organization is equipped with the right skills to meet the demands of today’s and tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing industry, take Tooling U-SME’s Workforce 2021 Assessment.

Tags: "3D printing", "additive manufacturing", "advanced technology", "Advanced Manufacturing Media", Deloitte, "Joseph Aoun", manufacturing, "Michelle Drew Rodriguez", "Northeastern University", Robot-Proof, "skills gap", "smart manufacturing", training, "Wall Street Journal", "workforce development"