Addressing the Skills Gap and Improving the Bottom Line
The skills gap in the manufacturing workforce continues to be a challenge. Employers constantly bemoan their inability to get qualified workers, educators convene employers to better understand what they are looking for and develop new programs, and job seekers experience frustration when they are not selected due to lack of skills. It is time to start looking more closely at potential solutions, the role that employers can play, and the value to employers.
Recently reports of successful strategies are starting to emerge. The lessons learned from these successes should be explored for replication and duplication. How do you define and measure success in a way that resonates with all the stakeholders? Typically successful placement in vacant positions is one clear measure. Another is assessing the Economic Impact of the placement on the company and measures that affect its bottom line.
One example of a project that did both is a training program managed by MAGNET in 2011. The project was designed to determine if the attainment of skill certifications matched to employer requirements would result in a pool of candidates to fill current or projected vacancies in entrylevel positions. Four Ohio sites were selected. The local team was headed by an educational provider and partnered with the local One-Stop that assisted with recruitment of participants. Selected employers were involved from the beginning. They committed to providing input in the content and delivery of the program as well as hiring completers to fill vacancies. Employer involvement includedplant tours, classroom presentations, delivering some of the training, and conducting mock interviews. Program outcomes includedattainment of a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) and the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician credential.
Participating employers expressed their satisfaction with the project and the majority of completers were placed followed training. Follow up was conducted with the employers to gather not only their perception of the project but also the Economic Impact on key factors affecting their bottom line. Preliminary data provided by six of the companies, indicated over $2M in retained sales, $ 250,000 in increased sales, and over $ 6M in investment in plant or equipment as a result of hiring skilled workers. Additionally ten jobs were created. Factors included: reduced OJT (On-the-Job-Training) time, improved retention, and increased production due to more quickly promoting incumbent workers as their positions were filled with the new hires.
Although a small project and a small employer feedback sample, this model holds promise as a way to help companies quantify the value of this approach. If employers are able to clearly identify the required skills and if the training providers can match those with certifications that validate the skills, job seekers can more successfully be prepared, placed and retained. Employers have to be part of the solution and training providers have to be willing to adapt their delivery content and strategies to meet both employer and job seeker needs.
Measuring the economic impact on the company provides a quantifiable way for employers to determine the ROI of their time and effort at the beginning of the job preparation process.
HEADLINE The survey definitively shows that product innovation leads to more growth, while “grow your own workforce” strategies will be needed to fill the major labor shortages hampering small manufacturer growth. Emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and digital manufacturing are beginning to enhance innovation and productivity, but still have significant room for adoption amongst Ohio’s small manufacturing businesses. ABOUT THE SURVEY Under the direction of the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Ohio MEP), MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network conducted a thorough survey of Ohio’s manufacturing base. Contributing approximately 20% of Ohio’s jobs (and driving in some regions up to 50% of Ohio’s economy), and generating a disproportionate amount of export revenues and Gross Regional Product, manufacturing is critical to Ohio. Greater than 95% of Ohio’s manufacturers are small (under 500 employees), and these manufacturers need to remain competitive both nationally and internationally to ensure our economy’s health. Ohio’s Development Services Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which runs the MEP, recognizes the importance of this sector and fuels MAGNET and the Ohio MEP program to directly serve and support innovation, efficiency, and growth in small and medium manufacturers. What manufacturers need
How Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Can Help Keep Our Engineers Safe and Our Manufacturing Strong Recall how difficult it was to put together complex LEGO creations when you were a child or helping a child. Now, picture assembling a fighter plane from a room full of parts. Even highly trained engineers can benefit from technology to help improve consistency and quality. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are making near-perfect assembly a possibility in the manufacturing space. By wearing AR glasses that use cameras, depth sensors and motion sensors to overlay images onto the real working environment, engineers and factory workers can visualize the exact bolts, parts, part numbers and instructions on how to assemble a particular component correctly. Lockheed Martin began using AR goggles and improved F-35 assembly time by 30 percent, in addition to increasing accuracy to 96 percent. In order to remain competitive, businesses should consider the ways VR and AR can improve efficiency and supply chain productivity. According to a recent BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report, AR platforms can provide companies up to 25 percent in cost savings on installation of equipment. Here are four ways VR/AR is disrupting the mid-market manufacturing space:
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