In June, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported that American manufacturers are growing at the fastest pace in almost three years, reflecting improved economic conditions at home and abroad. In a recent report by The Manufacturing Institute and Accenture, 75 percent of companies surveyed plan to increase U.S.-based production jobs by at least 5 percent in the next five years.
That’s great news for the workforce, but there’s one problem: 80 percent of manufacturers report a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled and highly skilled production positions.
According to TrainingIndustry, “Nearly 12 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product is generated in the manufacturing industry alone. Over the next 10 years, 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed, of which it is estimated that almost two million will be left unfilled.”
To close that gap, manufacturers will have to train people quickly and effectively. Wondering how to do so? Here are some ideas:
Identify your Best Talent
Training content is only as good as the subject matter expert (SME) behind it. Nearly 25 percent of today’s 12.4 million-person manufacturing workforce will retire in the next 10 years. That means that about 900 manufacturing workers will retire every single day for the next 19 years.
Identify the people who’ve had crucial roles in developing your manufacturing processes. Think about how you can capture and communicate their knowledge. Try to involve them in the transfer of that knowledge to incoming generations and unskilled workers.
Custom is the Best Option
In this case, off-the-shelf eLearning just won’t work. You need to show manufacturing processes and products that are specific to your company. The products you’re creating are proprietary and cannot be taught through a piece of learning content that you purchase from a library. Your SME(s) will need to work with a trusted eLearning solutions provider to identify your trainable processes, choose how best to communicate them, and then convert your training into custom eLearning.
A well-developed eLearning course that includes knowledge checks, multimedia, and real-world scenarios can be much more effective than an off-the-shelf solution that contains content that is irrelevant to your workers.
Don’t Forget your Suppliers
As you know, your supplier network is a major key to your success. You can create and sell custom training that will also benefit your suppliers, which will ultimately benefit your production and profitability. Sometimes, supply chain processes could be improved through a stronger knowledge of your business needs and manufacturing processes. Providing training to your suppliers – whether through your LMS or through a training-for-purchase method – can help you achieve better sales and strengthen your supplier relationships.
Find a Flexible LMS
Your skilled workers don’t necessarily sit at desks all day with scheduled time for instructor-led, in-person training sessions or hour-long webinars. Your LMS should offer on-demand training to your employees, and maybe even your customers, suppliers, and distribution partners.
eLearning should be available as microlearning – bite-sized chunks of knowledge that your workers can access when they’re away from their desks, out in the field, or performing a task. Manufacturing technology, machines, and materials are constantly changing, and an LMS that delivers content tailored to the right audience at the right time is invaluable for the manufacturing industry.
Forget outdated manuals and handbooks; workers should have access to learning via a kiosk, smartphone, tablet, or other platform that allows them to quickly access training videos, microlearning courses, and other tools to help them perform their jobs.