Future manufacturing depends on young talent with advanced analytical skills
Posted by Bert Maes on December 2, 2010
We don’t know how the manufacturing industry will look like in 15 years. But Accenture gives it a try in “A perspective on tomorrow’s high-performance manufacturing firms: what’s your plan for 2025?”
The management consulting company touches concepts such as hyper-customization & crowdsourcing, respond more quickly and accurately to customer needs, and tightly align with suppliers.
But they admit that all these strategic activities and new models hinges on having young people with the right skills on the shop floor.
A first-order challenge in this regard will be getting enough people with the right “thinking” skills (beyond operator skills or pure technical skills), coaching and management skills to regions where operations are expanding or being put in place. Advanced analytical skills will be in especially high demand, says Accenture.
The challenge today is to teach young people the skills to interpret quantitative methods from data in customer behavior, the supply chain, product development, and production lines, and then use those insights to shape business decisions and, ultimately, to improve outcomes.
Manufacturers seems to have loads of shop floor data, but many struggle to make sense of it all. The goal is to use real-time data from shop-floor systems to quickly anticipate problems in cost, quality, productivity, or customer service so that staff can make immediate course corrections.
But, shortfalls of skilled labor are projected for the fastest-growing markets. India faces a potential shortage of 2.45 million engineers by 2020, and China’s gap in skilled professionals could reach 5.9 million by 2015. This raises serious questions about whether education systems, societies and individuals understand the demand issue correctly. The younger generation does not step up its technical, maths and business management skills.
And a lack of quality training and education also contributes to the shortages. Given the increasing complexity of technology, people will need more quality education, not less. And this needs to be done on the most modern equipment. None of the young talents will want to learn old systems.
A great approach is the Stepping Up To Algebra program, designed for 7th grade students who struggle in math. Xavier testifies “I never liked math, I always got bad grades, until I got into Stepping Up To Algebra. My teacher made me feel like I could be successful in math and that I was good enough to go to college. The field trip to San Jose State and the engineering department was great, and made me start thinking about college. Now I want to be an engineer.”
But even if the quality of education improves, there appears to be a cultural aversion among youngsters to enter the STEM disciplines. Parents must encourage their children to enter these disciplines. Parent engagement is the cornerstone of academic achievement. And studying in technical fields is absolutely worth it.
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- Science Skills & Employability Skills Predict Future Salary