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The Educators Role in Closing the Skills-Gap

By Cody Deadman, CAMplete Solutions

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure… Last article I covered those who have the most to lose from the widening skills gap, the manufacturers themselves. This month I will cover those who in my opinion have the biggest ability to effectuate change, the educators.

Over the last couple months I have had the privilege to learn about and share my thoughts on the manufacturing skills gap. In doing so I have had my eyes opened to how serious this problem currently is, and will continue to be. That being said, I have also seen a number of reasons for optimism. This problem is just that, a problem; the optimism comes from the number of solutions that are already in place.

These programs are numerous, spanning across United States and Canada. Whether it’s the Earn while you Learn program at St.Clair College, or Industrial Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship program in the USA, hundreds of programs exist today that are ready to prepare the next generation of manufacturing.

Speaking from firsthand experience, I can’t stress enough the value of programs like these. These internships, apprenticeships and other experiential learning opportunities, which vary greatly, all offer those involved the ability to learn firsthand the skills they will use in their careers. Not just in theory in a classroom, but in practice, in the real world.

The underlying issue causing the skills gap is that individuals are lacking the hard skills of the positions open today. The great thing about these experiential learning opportunities is that they provide students the ability to learn these desired hard skills, while also learning the soft skills that can’t be taught in a classroom.

These programs do more than just provide students the chance to make money while bettering themselves, they are equally beneficial for the employers themselves. Through experiential learning programs, organizations avoid the increasingly unsuccessful talent wars.

Instead of looking for a needle in a haystack, experiential learning opportunities provide employers with cost-effective employees who can be molded to the exact needs of their specific organization. These employees become an investment, providing the ongoing residuals of affordable labor with the long-term pay off of a fully prepared employee, ready to slot in perfectly to the needs of the organization.

With these opportunities available to millennials and younger generations, it should seem like a no-brainer that students would consider these and pursue them as a career option. Sadly, this is not the case. Over 50 percent of teenagers in a recent poll said they had no interest in manufacturing as a career choice, and another study among students placed manufacturing last as a ranking of potential career destinations. To combat this, the first step is combating the perception issues.

The major reason students ranked manufacturing so low and unfavorable as a career choice was job stability and security. Students are being directed away from a career in manufacturing, and instead being guided into traditional 4-year degree programs. The issue is these programs aren’t the golden ticket that they once were. Tuition costs are rising every single year, and students are accumulating thousands of dollars in debt, without learning the requisite skills needed by employers. You don’t have to be a millennial to know someone personally who spent 4 years pursuing a degree to later go back and pursue a trade afterward.

Rapid advancements in technology are taking jobs in manufacturing. This statement alone is true. As technology advances, unskilled jobs are being performed faster and more efficiently with fewer people. This statement, however, ignores the silver lining, the inherent positive that exists within the problem itself. Although factories are becoming smart, and machines are becoming smarter, these advancements are only possible with smart workers.

As I have said in the previous articles, the solutions to the skills gap can’t be looked at in a vacuum. Manufacturers are evolving and advancing, changing their processes and products. Now it is time for the education to follow suit and change how they make their workers. By addressing the learning gap, educators can directly combat the long-term effects of this problem.

With 2 million skilled manufacturing jobs set to open up over the next ten years, concerns about stability and security need to be put to rest. Manufacturers are willing to pay more than ever to attract and keep top quality employees. The education system has the means in place to create these employees, now they just need to guide them there.

Part 1 of this series: Introduction

Part 2 of this series: Manufacturers

About the Author:
Cody Deadman is an employee at CAMplete Solutions, a software company focused on high-end 5-axis milling and Mill/Turn solutions. As a millennial, Cody provides a perspective on the Manufacturing Skills Gap that traditionally does not get portrayed.

CAMplete Solutions Inc.
120 Otonabee Dr, Kitchener, Ontario
Phone: 1(519)725-2557
Fax: 1(519)725-9812

“Taking the output from all popular CAM systems through APT or G-Code, CAMplete TruePath bridges the gap between CAM systems and milling machines. It is the “missing link.” TruePath provides everything needed to analyze, modify, optimize and simulate 5-axis tool paths in a seamless 3D environment.”

Learn more at: http://camplete.com/

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