As skilled positions, maintenance and repair jobs evolve in tandem with manufacturing technologies. There’s always something new to learn! Your techs may be educated, but unless they keep pursuing education, their skills may suffer. The smartest thing manufacturers can do is provide their maintenance and repair teams with access and opportunities to ongoing education, as a way to continue developing their skills.
Education is an ongoing process
A workforce that’s educated is a workforce that’s capable of delivering the highest caliber results. In manufacturing, this is paramount. Being able to perform repairs and maintenance with precision, quickness, foresight, and thoroughness is the difference between a full-functioning production line and untold thousands in downtime costs.
Many factories recruit out of college, welcoming schooled techs who have the front-line knowledge required to provide results now. But what about techs that’ve been part of the team for 2, 5, or even 10 years? They’re no longer fresh out of the classroom — and education has likely advanced since they were in school. They’re capable, but maybe less so as time goes on. These workers need access to ongoing education.
Enter: Certification and training programs
Where a college degree ends, ongoing training and certification programs take over. In fact, workers can acquire a basic industrial technology maintenance (ITM) certificate right out of high school. Most general certifications rely on knowledge assessments, not transcripts.
The reason certifications and ongoing training are critical is because these curricula are easy to restructure as technology arrives. For example, two-week certification programs can be overhauled every two to three years to support new materials. Similarly, manufacturer training programs can add new modules to accommodate new tech. Moreover, certifications appeal to new and returning learners because their scope is very focused.
Where to seek certification
Many manufacturers have in-house training curricula. Likewise, many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) offer certification programs for repairing and maintaining their products. Beyond these, manufacturers can and should encourage their techs to go for regular certification and recertification with accredited industry organizations.
Two of the most prominent include the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) and the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). For more ongoing education spanning broad topics, the American Society of Quality (ASQ) offers 17 (and growing) manufacturing certifications.
For manufacturing techs broadening their full scope of capabilities, certificate programs at a local trade school or manufacturing-oriented university offer a wealth of potential.
Encourage education; reap the benefits
The benefits of ongoing worker education are endless. For manufacturers, we’re talking about a higher caliber of work, lower employee turnover, fewer avoidable manufacturing problems, and more efficient maintenance and repair operations. For workers, it comes down to feelings of fulfillment in their career, opportunities for advancement, a well-rounded skillset, and better engagement.
Education is the cornerstone of success, especially in manufacturing environments seeing change by the month. As industry evolves, so does the technology and so must your workers. Taking an encouraging stance on ongoing education means positioning your business for success by putting the growth of your workforce first.