Manufacturing companies are finding that technology advancement is a double-edged sword. With the improvement of production processes, entry level positions declined and replaced with jobs that required experienced employees. This conversion to a highly skilled workforce thrived until now, a time when seasoned employees are beginning to retire.

This subject has been discussed for quite some time. Survey results, as noted in the report Boiling point? The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing, indicate that:

  • The hardest jobs to fill are those having the most impact on performance.
  • While recognizing the importance of recruiting and developing talent, many manufacturers depend on outdated approaches for finding the right people, developing employees’ skills, and improving performance.
  • High levels of unemployment aren’t making it easier to fill positions, particularly in the areas of skilled production and production support.
  • The changing nature of manufacturing work makes it more difficult for talent to keep up.
  • The skills gap is expected to take the biggest toll on production jobs and may widen with time.

So, how does a manufacturing company change its strategy when moving from one generation of workers to another?

Business leaders are forced to seek new ways of recruiting, onboarding, and training. However, it doesn’t stop there. Updated performance tools and formal advancement processes should play a significant role in the manufacturer’s management plan, in addition to employee career planning, which is pertinent to retaining talent.

Furthermore, it’s imperative that government organizations and educational institutions collaborate with the manufacturing industry to create the skills and training needed in this ever-changing field. For example, Alamo Colleges works with high school students to obtain certifications and paid internships in advanced technology and manufacturing. The school’s industry-driven curriculum develops the necessary skills of today’s manufacturing arena. As documented by Alamo Colleges, “Toyota, one of the industry partners involved in the program, has provided workers the technical skills needed for advanced manufacturing operations, including troubleshooting and repairing robotics.”

Whatever it takes, the time to change is now. Manufacturing companies need to redefine the skill sets for employees and provide the opportunities required to create well-paying careers.

Ford Motor’s Mark Fields said over a decade ago that the industry “couldn’t go on whistling the same tune.” In his words, it’s either “change or die.”

I agree.

Choose Laser 1 Technologies for all your manufacturing needs. Give us a call today at (651) 451-9397.