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Technologies like AI and IoT are making possible an economic revolution not seen in generations past. Technological disruption is changing how work gets done and how people experience work.
However, there still is a significant skills gap in the manufacturing sector that needs to be bridged to enable long-term success.
The workforce is facing a decline in skill sets, with many applicants lacking knowledge of basic job skills and CIOs now tasked with finding creative ways to bridge this gap. Why? The demand for sophisticated skills and innovative tools now surpasses supply.
A massive skills shortage
According to a review in the Washington Examiner, one of the main reasons behind the backlog of 450,000 unfilled American manufacturing jobs is a lack of STEM skills.
Manufacturing is shifting to become a tech-enabled occupation. However, manufacturing skill sets have not kept pace with the changes. Jobs in manufacturing have changed with these digital transformations.
CIOs and mid-level technologists now have new challenges in accessing talented workers through the education system, developing the critical skills needed for better automation and collaborating with academia.
Businesses in many industries — from manufacturing to legal to communications — are rapidly becoming more digitized. If a corporation is manufacturing electronic components, then that entire chain is being digitized and information needs to be on the spot.
Therefore, people need to be trained. Technology has changed not only the ways corporations operate but also the technical skills required by those who work in manufacturing.
Addressing the skills gap
The key to making the transition to automation: brainpower, not horsepower. In an age where disruption is supposedly all around us, how do we ensure that we maintain or become even more sustainable in how we work?
Ultimately, manufacturers need to find creative ways to address the skills gap. Options include fostering collaboration between tech organizations and manufacturers. Such initiatives create a platform to leverage emerging technologies to craft diverse skills and analyze how best to mobilize talent across membership groups.
For larger companies, the option of building in-house is also feasible, although potentially more expensive and carries the risk that these high-tech workers might be poached away.
Too many manufacturers struggle to find graduates with the right education and the necessary skills. But that isn’t their only problem. They also struggle to retain talented workers, particularly graduates with the high-tech skills necessary to take on the jobs of the future.
Addressing the perception gap
The reality is, manufacturing offers an attractive opportunity for high school and college students, particularly those interested in STEM careers, to pursue a manufacturing education, obtain specific manufacturing skills, and gain experience on their path to working in manufacturing. But sharing this message is imperative for the success of future manufacturers.
Manufacturing deploys an array of STEM job skills, including microbiology, chemical engineering, physics, robotics, and high-tech computer systems, to name a few.
Automation is changing the skills required for virtually all industries. For manufacturers to meet demand, like all other industries they will need to adapt to the rapidly changing environment.
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