For the past ten years or more, we have been “warned” about the coming skills gap crisis in our country. Researchers and economists have provided data that indicate that we will have hundreds of jobs going unfilled while hundreds of people are looking for work. The recent recession caused many to discount this warning due to the large number of people who lost their jobs, particularly in manufacturing.
However, the reality of the skills gap is now starting to emerge and is looming on the horizon as we continue to observe the number of “baby boomers” leaving the workforce.
The manufacturing industry and its often higher paying jobs is leading the way in the economic come back, it is also on the leading edge of the skilled worker retirements. Many of the job seekers do not have the skills needed to participate in modern advanced manufacturing. Some lack a work ethic and understanding of the work environment, others lack the basic academic skills, as well as the technical, math, and science needed to design and manufacture all kinds of products and parts.
Our returning veterans represent one source to fill the skills gap. An analysis of the knowledge and skills acquired in the service of our country indicates that with a little training and some assistance, they can begin to fill the skills gap and enter a career position in advanced manufacturing.
This is one solution. Others are needed for other groups within our population. Hopefully some of the other new projects in Northeast Ohio will help individuals gain the knowledge and skills to more quickly enter the workforce and close the skills gap.
M. Judith Crocker Ed. D., Director, Manufacturing Education Affairs, leads MAGNET’s efforts to work with regional educational institutions to help them identify the education and training needs of manufacturers.
Before joining MAGNET, Crocker served as Director of Corporate and Community Outreach Services, Executive Director of Workforce Development at Lorain County Community College. She has also worked with the Cleveland City Schools delivering workforce education programs.
Crocker holds a Bachelors degree in Education from the University of Toledo; a Masters of Education degree from the University of Utah and a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Utah. She is a member of numerous professional organizations including the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, University Continuing Education Association, Association for Career and Technical Education and the Greater Cleveland Adult Education Council.
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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