Strike the Right Balance: Boost Training Without Sacrificing Production

Posted By: John Hindman, Director of Learning Services, Tooling U-SME on October 23, 2018

John Hindman

For years, the “the skills gap” has been threatening to slow growth in the manufacturing industry. At IMTS last month, Tooling U-SME released the Industry Pulse: 2018 Manufacturing Workforce Report which shows that despite repeated warnings, still little has been done when it comes to combatting the dangers of retirements, a decreased talent pipeline and the need for new, advanced technology skills. In fact, only two out of five companies (41%) agree that their company trains people to develop the right skills.

Many manufacturers appear to sacrificing training and growth partly as a result of a misconception that training takes time away from production.

Every day I talk to manufacturers across the country. No matter the industry or company size, one of the questions I’m asked most often is, “How do I train my employees without taking them off the job?”

Many manufacturers are focused on increasing productivity, improving quality, and growing their business, and that usually means keeping their employees in production mode on the plant floor. But now, with the threats posed by the skills gap, training and upskilling are more important than ever. So how do you build an effective workforce development program while keeping your production up?

In this first of a three-part series on how to build employee skills without losing production time, read about how the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP) is facilitating training to do just that.

Like those in any other state, manufacturers in South Carolina face the challenge of increasing their workforce through upskilling incumbent employees or training new employees without losing time on the job. SCMEP, a private, non-profit organization focused on meeting the needs of manufacturers in the state, partnered with Tooling U-SME to develop an online training curriculum.

The companies find great value in being able to choose specific training, such as CNC, maintenance, safety, or dozens of other topics. Plus, they’re able to monitor employees’ progress and better understand where employees might be struggling. Most importantly, because the classes are available online and employees can access the content at their own convenience, no time is lost on the shop floor.

Andy Carr, Sr. Vice President of Operations, SCMEP, explained that this is especially important for the smaller facilities with five or six employees that can’t spare the time to allow their employees to attend a traditional one or two-day training workshop.

Precision Southeast in Myrtle Beach is one manufacturer taking advantage of online training. Heather Jacobs, Continuous Improvement Coordinator, said, “We have been successful at utilization and efficiencies being above 80% at both South Carolina Molding plants for three consecutive months, and have buy-in and confidence from our employees.”

The skills gap isn’t going away, just as a company’s drive for business growth isn’t going away. Successful companies will be those that employ training and development opportunities while maintaining or even increasing production.

Check back for additional stories about how other organizations are finding a balance between training and production, including the Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center, and the Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership with the Dixon Valve and Coupling Company.

Tags: MEP, "online training", "Precision Southeast", SCMEP, "South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership", "workforce development"