Education and preparation will become critical to continued growth in the U.S. manufacturing industry during the remainder of 2018 and beyond. In order to produce continued growth, there will be a need for manufacturing industry leaders to pay close attention to current American manufacturing trends and develop new strategies. As it stands today, failure to align with and implement the necessary processes and available programs will surely result in a future loss of much needed, upcoming American workforce and consumer interests, both domestic and global in the manufacturing industry.
One study recently conducted by members of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University; states that there currently appears to be a failure to properly educate an adequate number of students in what is known as the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) educational program. In an article provided by Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research & Innovation Center,” the future of the U.S. manufacturing industry is heavily dependent upon today’s STEM education.” (The Future Of U.S. Manufacturing And The Importance Of … (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.matricinnovates.com/matric-matters-blog/the-future-of-u-s-manufacturi)
One may ask why a nation that has, in decades past, been incredibly successful as worldwide leaders in innovation, would need to be concerned with STEM education? We, as a nation often consider the meaning of preparing for the “future” as working on preparations for what will be needed, a year from now or even 10 years down the road. The speed in which technology advances today and as scientific and mathematical advancement occur, true ‘strategic’ dialog and vision must focus on what will be needed in all areas of manufacturing over the next 30 years and how to create a continuous, smooth transition from one level to the next as time progresses.
STEM education is in no way simply focused on producing mechanical and/or chemical engineers, but creating a space where students don’t simply understand science and math, but acquire a wholesome STEM literacy. With this in mind, STEM education must become a priority within the American educational curricula for the future and long-term health of the American manufacturing industry.
Today’s manufacturers are aggressively seeking out and exploring new technologies on all levels so that American manufacturing progression will continue to improve. They are looking for new strategies to enhance their industries respectively. Manufacturers across the board are interested in intelligent, innovative tools that will increase profitability, cut costs and finally streamline the operations that for decades, have been incredibly challenging. This is going to require, however, that manufacturers transcend the narrow view of only enhancing software and systems and reveal better strategies and processes that will be significantly improved by better student education and keeping a close eye on additional trends and creating better strategies:
Bridge the Skills Gap –
- According to Polytron, the manufacturing industry as it stands today is estimated to experience a skills-gap of approximately 3.5 million positions that will go unfilled over the next 10 years.
- Should manufacturing leaders continue to overlook the obvious with regard to human training and education; they are preparing to experience dangerous profit losses in the long term.
Manufacturing Leaders Must Create Relationships With Youth Within Their Communities –
- This will be one of the most critical avenues to lead America’s youth to interest in manufacturing.
- Manufacturing leaders must begin to eliminate the stereotypical thoughts and ideas that young people envision when they think of working in plants and factories.
- Manufacturers must realize that much of the current manufacturing employees are preparing to retire and young people need to understand the importance of the many changes manufacturing industries are preparing to experience so that they will understand their vital importance.
It’s Time to Educate the Current Manufacturing Employees –
- Although many manufacturing employees are preparing to retire, providing apprenticeships to these workers now, could benefit companies as new young employees come onboard. This will add an additional training feature.If properly educated in the factory, current, newly trained employees at the very least will have the ability to provide training with skills that are specific to their industries.
Workforce Development Strategies –
- Inasmuch as young new employees do not have the kind of exposures that are traditional in the manufacturing industries, one of the most important strategies to enrich the employee environment will lie in on the job manufacturing training for entry-level employees.
- This kind of training will provide companies an opportunity to assist in molding future generations for upcoming and necessary skilled positions.
- According to Plant Engineering; manufacturers may get ahead of this ever-increasing skills gap now by exploring national organization that will assist in the assessment of their current operations and by use of predictive analytics will provide a good idea what sort of skilled labor will be required in years to come so that proper preparations can be implemented.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Also Known as Industry 4.0 Must be Applied Sooner Than Later –
- Most upcoming potential employees will come equipped with plenty of knowledge pertaining to connectivity devices. By use of this particular strategy, there would then be a reduced need for repair and maintenance personnel.
- There will then be a reduction in the need for demand for other skilled manufacturing employees.
- Machine operational efficiency will likely ensure a more even workload distribution in any facility.
Manufacturing leaders must realize that the time has come to connect today’s youth with digital technology on the factory floor if there will be hope to bridge this overwhelming skill gap. By implementation of IIoT, young new workers will be far more likely to learn and adapt to the skills needed if they are able to work with the technologies they have come to know over the course of their lives and through their educational processes. By leveraging these skills and combining them with some traditional manufacturing skills, leaders are likely to find that they are capable of getting far beyond a “happy medium” to a well-oiled machine that is likely to bring American manufacturers back to the forefront globally.
However, if manufacturers fail to reconsider their current positions with regard to community outreach and their strategies for hiring, they will simply find themselves hoping for the best.
This will only result in even larger issues as the future approaches. Companies must begin now to assess and discover exactly what external and internal resources they have that could be leveraged if they wish to attract new and successful manufacturing workers to their plant floors.
At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: