Seize Opportunities with Preparation
Jeannine Kunz, Chief Workforce Development Officer, SME on
September 26, 2018
Advanced technology gives manufacturers opportunities to innovate, evolve, and grow. Nowhere is this clearer than at IMTS, where more than 2,500 exhibitors displayed state-of-the-art technology that will transform how we make and manage things.
I have been attending IMTS for the last 18 years, and the energy and enthusiasm at this year’s event was the most I have witnessed since 2000. Business is good, confidence is up, and buyers have money to spend. Attendees and exhibitors alike are encouraged by the current strong market.
A top priority for many organizations is adopting smart technology. From digital connectivity to robotics, data, automation, and beyond, IMTS abounded with new technology that will transform manufacturing. The market is motivated to utilize these advanced manufacturing technologies; yet, I repeatedly heard similar sentiments on the show floor:
- “This would really help us track parts better, but no one on my team understands this technology.”
- “I can’t buy this equipment right now since I don’t have anyone who can run it.”
- “If we’re going to spend this much, we'd better make sure someone knows how to use it.”
IMTS reminds us that manufacturing is constantly evolving and advancing, pushing the boundaries of technology and providing endless opportunities for growth. Our challenge is preparing ourselves through training and development to leverage these opportunities today. Tremendous smart technology is available to us right now, not some time far off into the future.
Taking immediate action on creating and implementing a workforce development strategy is crucial to industry’s advancement. Yet, only two out of five companies say that their company trains people to develop the right skills, and 76% of the respondents in Tooling U-SME’s Industry Pulse: 2018 Manufacturing Workforce Report revealed that their company does not have a talent development strategy for manufacturing employees.
IMTS is an inspirational experience and any manufacturer’s motivation to adopt new technology shouldn’t be hindered by its inability to leverage it. But instead, companies need to take control of the intertwined strategy of developing people and technology capabilities in their organization. Fortunately, there are many actions manufacturers can take to develop and retain their employees and attract new employees. By investing in programs internally as well as in their local community employment pipelines, manufacturers can build a strong workforce prepared for the opportunities that new technologies offer.
SME will continue to showcase the latest trends in technology and equipment and we’re also here to help you tackle your organization’s workforce challenges head-on or identify some projects to get you started in the right direction. This is an exciting time for manufacturers, educators, government entities and non-profits to seize the moment and lead the next industrial revolution.
"advanced technology", IMTS, "manufacturing skills gap", productivity, "smart technology", "Tooling U-SME", "workforce development"