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The Manufacturers Role in Closing the Skills-Gap

By Cody Deadman, CAMplete Solutions

Last month I introduced the first in a series of articles that will be featured over the next couple of months, outlining the role we all must play in closing the manufacturing skills gap. Last month we also covered what we here at CAMplete are doing to contribute. This month, I will be covering those who take the largest hit as the gap continues to grow, the manufacturers themselves.

A new wave of manufacturing is upon us, shop floors today look nothing like they did just 20 years ago. Increased digital interconnectedness, advanced robots, and fully integrated production processes are moving companies into uncharted territories. The issue? Smart manufacturing, although largely automated, fails to exist without smart workers.

Hiring managers across North America are becoming increasingly frustrated finding the skilled talent that meets their needs. The decreasing wage differential from other countries combined with all the other factors and costs surrounding offshoring is causing the gap between the two to close, removing the incentives that were once there. This means manufacturers are looking to solve the problem domestically.

84 percent of executives agree that a talent shortage exists, and 82 percent of those executives believe that this gap will affect how they deal with customer demand (1). Without the right employees, these companies will miss out on opportunities to expand, innovate and at the end of the day, compete.

Acknowledging the negative implications, 80 percent of the executives from the same study stated that they would be willing to pay above market rate in order to prevent their company from falling victim to these talent shortages. However, compensation is not enough. Apathy and disinterest towards manufacturing exists among younger generations that can’t be solved by money alone.

So, what exactly can these organizations do? The answer to that can be broken up into two groups, solutions for now, and solutions for the future. Solutions, for now, seem like common sense, but they are often overlooked by many organizations throughout their day to day operations. These include altering their approach to talent management, focusing on ongoing training and developing their employees to meet their company’s goals.

All of these ideas seemingly go hand in hand. Treating your employees properly reduces turnover, meaning less skilled positions to fill, while also promoting boosterism. Your employees become advocates for your workplace, increasing the likelihood that your organization will successfully recruit the skilled employees needed to compete.

How do you treat these employees properly? This is achieved through a lot of means, one relevant factor, and something that correlates high in job satisfaction, especially among millennials, is ongoing training and development. Instead of looking for the needle in the haystack on the job market, companies can instead focus on developing their existing workforce, keeping employees happy, while also aligning their talent with their company’s goals.

When looking to the future, companies must engage their community, building their pipeline from an early age. This is what I would say is the brightest spot, and the biggest reason for optimism, because so many companies have already bought into this idea. In 2016, 2807 official MFG DAY events occurred across the United States alone. This is a staggering 1000 percent growth over the first official MFG Day that occurred back in 2012.

Manufacturing Day is a celebration of modern manufacturing. On this day manufacturers invite students, teacher, and others to their facilities in an effort to educate them on the exciting careers that exist within manufacturing. In 2016 this event was able to reach over 250 thousand students and nearly 600 thousand participants.

Manufacturing Day exposes students to modern manufacturing, as it is today, destroying their misconception that manufacturing is how it used to be. Following this event, of the students surveyed, 64 percent of students were more motivated to pursue a career in manufacturing.

The companies that participate in the Manufacturing Day event, events that are similar, or have their own initiatives are playing their part in the solution. Inability to meet your customers’ demands due to skill shortages will impact how you do business. Getting your company involved helps the economy but is in no way charity or altruism. Being part of the solution is a long-term investment in your company’s bottom line.

We all have a vested interest in closing this widening skills gap. Manufacturers are only one part of a larger eco-system. Next month I will cover how teachers and educators can do their job to alter perceptions and close the gap.

Footnotes: (1) Deloitte Report: Skills Gap In Manufacturing

Part 1 of this series: Introduction

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.”

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