U.S manufacturing industry is the world’s largest with an 18.2% share of the global manufactured products. It produces a dollar value of 1.8 trillion each year. Taken by itself it would be the tenth largest economy in the world. When measuring the size and importance of the U.S manufacturing industry, however, it is important to recognize factors such as skills gap, and the lack of adequate talent that is seriously hurting the performance of this industry.
In a survey conducted by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the following facts have emerged:
- There are 600,000 jobs vacant because of skills gap
- Cost of skills gap is $1 million of lost revenue per company per year and 63% national GAP.
Human resources in skilled production (machinists, operators, and technicians) and in production support (industrial and manufacturing engineers, and planners) would be the hardest hit by retirements of an aging workforce.
- U.S manufacturing industry is experiencing difficulty in maintaining production levels.
- 83% of respondents in a survey opined that to reduce skills gap they would employ internal training programs.
What is significant is that the majority of the respondents felt a need for internal training programs in order to meet the demands of the sector. However, it may not always be possible for organizations to conduct classroom training programs or facilitate face to face knowledge exchange sessions on a continual basis for their workforce. In such a scenario, online training solutions could prove to be a viable alternative. Here are some of the learning options that can reduce skills gap and might result in rapid advancements in the use of technology and adoption of new manufacturing processes.
Blended Learning with a Combination of Workshops and Online Sessions
A blended learning approach that combines online and class room training can be adopted where classroom time can be used to engage the workmen and managers in advanced interactive experiences. Online sessions can provide workmen and managers with multimedia-rich content at any time of day and can be useful to reinforce knowledge that had been shared during face to face interactions. The ultimate aim of blended learning is to provide realistic practical opportunities for learners to maximize their learning experience. It reduces the requirement of obligatory classroom time by providing online training options in circumstances that do not require face to face interaction.
Preliminary Training with Simulations
Equipment used for training may not be readily available. Using eLearning modules helps create simulations of key processes or procedures without the need for equipment. For example, if you need to show a live demonstration of the production process, it can be done using graphic simulations which help learners understand the production process clearly. Simulation accurately reflects the real-life production process. E-Learning modules can include simulations which help manufacturers train their production staff with minimal interruption in production. Once learners are thorough with the processes and concepts, they can be taken to the actual equipment for live demonstration.
Provide Opportunities for Collaborative Learning
Collaborative experience acts as an icebreaker to resist boredom in training. It helps in the exchange of ideas between two or more individuals resulting in knowledge transfer and learning. It can be face to face interaction or through technological tools. Based on the skills of the workforce, this kind of learning can be carefully implemented if the trainers feel that their learners are adept in using technology. Since use of smartphones has increased rapidly, mobile communication can be explored as a means for peer to peer collaboration to promote active learning.
Collaborative learning is recommended for higher level managers where they have the opportunity to interact with peers and trainers. Collaborative learning promotes thinking skills through social stimulation. It provides a platform for Q & A, discussions and interaction.
These are by no means comprehensive solutions to bridge the skills gap but certainly they could be considered methods that can be adopted for the purpose. Also read our blog on Role of eLearning in Manufacturing Processes Training