BERT MAES

The Future of CNC Manufacturing Education – CNC Manufacturing, Education Reform & Change Management News.

The 7 Skills We Should Teach in Technical Education

Posted by Bert Maes on May 18, 2010


We are far from recovery, but I believe it is smart to think today about what will happen in three years.

A new survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), among 694 employers, collectively employing over 2.4 million people, or 8% of all those in employment in the UK, has revealed that the demand for people with high-quality skills and qualifications will intensify.

The CBI report, entitled ’Ready to grow: business priorities for education and skills’ shows 7 clear priorities for technical education.

The past few years, employers just wanted to survive. Now step-by-step, our companies are focusing again on strategies that will improve their productivity and performance.

Employers recognize that all public spending will be under pressure in the years ahead. But, that is what makes it all the more important that resources should be used to best effect.

So what are the skills manufacturing companies are looking for to be able to continue to play a significant role in our economic recovery?

  • Already today, 65% of the UK employers in manufacturing struggle to find the technical talent they need. 77% of the manufacturing employers are not confident of being able to recruit highly-skilled staff in the next three years. As a result the focus of education should be on intermediate and higher-level skills.
  • Two thirds of the employers (65%) believe gaining practical work experience is the most valuable step young people can take to improve their prospects. 71% of businesses believe that providing high-quality practical education and work placement is the best strategy to help encourage STEM study.
  • 70% of the employers want to see a stronger focus on employability skills. 57% of the surveyed people are unhappy with young people’s self management skills – being able to accept responsibility in the workplace and manage their time effectively. 68% of the employers are dissatisfied with young people’s business and customer awareness, i.e. having a basic grasp of customer satisfaction, profit and loss and other key drivers for business success. Also teamwork skills (34%) and problem solving (analyzing facts and creative thinking – 44%) are seen as major areas of dissatisfaction.
  • 63% want to see improved essential skills of literacy and numeracy. Half of respondents express concern about the basic literacy skills (52%) and numeracy skills (49%) of their current workforce. These skills include composing coherent written communications, or working through basic arithmetic and percentages, such as calculating change or working out a discounted price. Concerns about IT skills are higher still, with 66% of the firms expressing concern.
  • Achieving improved performance in business depends on leadership and management capabilities in an organization. 69% see better leadership and management skills as a strategic priority, with high growth expectations for these roles in the next three to five years.
  • Over two thirds of the employers (71%) are not satisfied with the foreign language skills of young people and 55% perceive shortfalls in their international cultural awareness. The UK companies especially demand skills in French (49%), Mandarin/Cantonese (44%), German (34%), and Spanish (32%). Thus, the trend towards internationalization in technical education should be reinforced.
  • Employers are ready to build partnerships with schools to achieve their long term goals.  They especially are looking for cost-effective routes for delivering training, which include online programs, in-house training where possible, and especially specialized training focused on those areas and activities yielding the best return (pointing again for the pressing need of high-level skills taught in our education).

What are the subjects that would be most likely to lead to a job?

42% of the surveyed companies say young job seekers should pick business studies, while 21% suggest Maths was best for career prospects and 13% said English. Psychology and Sociology were at the bottom of the list of requirements.

>> Dear reader: my thesis is that manufacturing education should try to integrate the newest technologies, good maths, leadership skills and several languages. What is your take?

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7 Responses to “The 7 Skills We Should Teach in Technical Education”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CONNSTEP, Knight Global and Lean Gear, AssocManufactExc. AssocManufactExc said: RT @htecbertmaes: New blog post: The 7 Skills We Should Teach in #manufacturing #Education: http://wp.me/pxaXr-AY […]

  2. […] Apply for Studio Associate: The Picture People Here are a few related blogs on this subject: The 7 Skills We Should Teach in Technical Education « BERT MAES – The 7 Skills We Should Teach in Technical Education « BERT MAES 5 Steps To Getting Started […]

  3. […] […]

  4. […] 7. The skills and other attributes needed in modern manufacturing are getting more difficult to define, particularly for small and lean facilities. The people who can best recognize these attributes are likely to be the ones who already have them. A manufacturer’s current employees are probably its best link to new employees. (find out: The 7 skills we should teach in technical education.) […]

  5. Lewie S. said

    I find many similar problems in good shops I have worked with I have noticed. I noticed recurring problems.
    1. Lack of teamwork between members on the same shift and enmities between between different shifts often fostered by management to increase production with no financial incentives nor equal playing field.
    2. Little or no help to develop everyone’s skills set for fear they will have to be capitalists and actually reward talent and progress over all. They wish to find talent already developed someplace else and not take their team and with leadership and ownership make them superior to their competition and then keeping them with the increased profits which will occur being a incentive to workers.
    3. When some who are faster excell they will do it in a variety of ways. some are good planning some methods are underhanded. I will give two or three examples Some good machinists will alter the programs to cut waste and ensure the best feeds and speeds and also list all tooling they will need along with measuring devices. They will save the program on their own disk and load that when they run. They also can do all the math which allows quicker checks instead of just taking it to inspection to do it all which saves them time. They will also hoard tooling in their own boxes so they can have tooling for any job since management often tries to cut their throats by saving on tooling which causes delays and will bust deadlines. I have seen proven programs which will designate a facemill yet in the program on one process the facemill will take a cut of over 1 and 1/2 inches because there is no Moo just a mo1 and then the instructions say flip part 90 degrees in X. Well single blocking it you see and do it and if you do not notice it when you run the first part without m01’s it toasts the facemill which is why we do not have that facemill in inventory. When a machinist brings it up they are often resented since they have always done it that way meaning that those who know this adjust the program themselves which is something else management does not like either. The result machinist makes notes and saves program that is edited and good and uses that until a new guy toast a good facemill it goes good and the solution blame the machinist.

    4. To preach ownership and teamwork you must live it and to preach profitability in America you share it and the result is that talent and innovation are rewarded and retained. Just because management understand this for themselves they often see profits as deserving for themselves and even take courses to pay less even for ones who give their all.
    5. If you can not really do it yourself then you really have a hard time understanding the problems that come up. You can only learn why some are doing good and others not by asking questions of them and being observant this way you learn what works. If hostility is experienced when a machinist offers advice or sees a problem then guess what they learn you do not care and that when they offer to help they receive trouble instead of respect and reasonable and mature consideration so they do not advise yet sometimes they will do for themselves.

    6. If you as a job shop owner has been told at one time or another to fire someone and you would be the only one left there if you did it you must remember there is not teamwork there but enmity. This can be caused if you lament about some screwed up project and vent about it to employees who would agree if you said “The Cow jumped over the Moon”. Remember if you work the same times as dayshift and they always complain a lot about other shifts all the time realize they have all week to sell to you the idea of their supremacy. Plus day shift has much more resources at their disposal because full management is there to solve problems on the fly. When you ask another shift to do a job try to see that everything is there for them to do it tooling,vise,proven program, (it may be one of seven on the server!) or jaws to do the job so they do not have to find everything from scratch to set the job up. Tool hogging is bad especially when all machines are busy many will keep them in their tool carosel so they will have then for the next job. Each vise should have stops for them and extras. There must be more than one mop and bucket for say 10 machines if you really want it clean don’t skimp on this so people fight over the mop and bucket when it is time to clean up at shift end. I could go on for hours. But I will stop.

    • Bert Maes said

      Thank you for your comment, Lewie. You are correct – I see similar recurring problems in some companies. Indeed lack of teamwork, no knowledge transfer, management doing everything to save costs. But that is the case in some companies. With the increasing use of robots, computers, programmable motion control and sensing technologies, manufacturing is transformed from traditional assembly to “lean” manufacturing, where teamwork is essential. I believe in that setting young people will have many opportunities for respectful, creative work. Don’t you think?

  6. […] culture of commitment, determination, action and specific goals is the foundation of the job readiness skills business leaders find lacking in students. Help students to be willing to work and ready to […]

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