3 integrated solutions for the threatening manufacturing skills shortage
Posted by Bert Maes on April 2, 2010
Manufacturers all over the globe can’t find the right people with the right skills to fill manufacturer’s talent need (and to keep our manufacturing competitive)
IndustryWeek has pointed to the evidence that appropriate training to meet current and forthcoming talent gaps remains elusive.
- “Advances in technology,” says Chuck Parke, University of Tennessee at Knoxville. “What was considered adequate 15 years ago would be nowhere near adequate today in certain machining applications.” (There is a similar quote in my blog post: why we’re failing math and science in engineering)
- Outsourcing of low-skilled jobs to low-labor-cost countries. “The remaining jobs require a much higher skill level, and the average has gone up in terms of the amount of training needed per employee,” says Parke.
- The high turnover rate of the workforce, due to layoffs, early buyouts of experienced workers
- The mindset of many younger workers who don’t come to a manufacturing company and stay.
- Training frequently is among the first things cut when business is difficult.
- Thomas A. Kochan, professor of management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, says the basic problem is that U.S. manufacturing never has developed a close community of private industry and technical schools in any systematic way, although pockets of success exist.
Three integrated solutions:
- Government should take a greater role “as a coordinating mechanism” to help develop a robust coordinated (non-disseminated) nationwide training program for manufacturing. [See my blog post: the future of manufacturing in Europe 2020]
- Companies have to make ‘partnering with local educational institutions’ an integral part of their company’s strategic plan to support and obtain training and the best possible workforce. Nearly two-thirds of IndustryWeek’s Best Plants winners and finalists over the past five years have implemented that strategy. There could be a causal relation. [See my blog post: companies should get their hands dirty]
- Educational establishment should extensively research the local business needs, which probably include good math skills, blueprint reading, robotics, programmable logic control and circuitry. Schools must establish close connections with the local industry community, to make sure the manufacturing curriculum’s content is relevant to what manufacturers need. [See my blog post: a business-driven model for technical education]
Related blog posts:
- a framework for revitalizing manufacturing education
- 8 recommendations for engineering education in Europe