Not so long ago, we could expect to train in manufacturing and use that education our entire lives. Today, that outdated expectation is unrealistic. To maintain a competitive advantage, manufacturers must strive for constant innovation. Why?
Robots running smart factories is no longer a distant-future dream. In some manufacturing facilities, it’s already a reality. Innovation has changed the way we work. Some experts say technology advancements will someday make work obsolete. However, skilled humans will remain necessary for the foreseeable future. That’s why constant learning is a necessity for today’s manufacturers.
Whether post-college or no college, continued learning impacts economic survival. Employers and employees face common obstacles in bridging the manufacturing skills gap. Fortunately, opportunities exist for future manufacturing success. But where can would-be manufacturers begin?
The education connection
Educators at community colleges and universities are partnering with manufacturers to offer programs that combine classroom learning and training. These partnerships help prospective manufacturers by providing access to training and job opportunities. In addition, future manufacturers receive instruction in resume writing and interview skills. The “soft skills” training such partnerships offer is also important. It allows future manufacturers to further their teamwork and problem-solving abilities.
Another educational option for prospective manufacturers is reverse-apprenticeships. In these opportunities, manufacturers partner with schools through grants and bring hands-on job training to campus. Students work for an hourly wage and earn college credit in exchange for producing products.
But it’s necessary for manufacturers to continue learning and enhancing their skills beyond educational institutions. That’s why manufacturing leaders are also offering continued educational opportunities at their facilities.
Additional learning options for modern manufacturers
Manufacturing leaders who view on-site training as a competitive differentiator — instead of an expense — excel at employee recruitment, engagement, and retention. Such training helps employees develop in targeted advancement areas. But let’s face it: It’s difficult to set aside the time needed to commit to attending a class. That’s why solutions such as blended learning methods are available today. These include online video training followed by on-site practice and proficiency demonstrations. They are uniquely suited for use in the manufacturing industry both for the flexibility they offer and their effectiveness.
For manufacturers whose employers don’t offer continued educational opportunities, online, night, and weekend classes are often available through myriad organizations. Such learning options can assist those who want to obtain certifications stay at the cutting edge of the industry. In addition, even attending weekend conferences and seminars can help manufacturers stay up to date on the latest in the industry. Plus, they don’t cut into work hours or vacation time.
Learn or become obsolete
Innovations like artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and smart factories are becoming more ubiquitous. Because of these changes, many jobs are coming to the manufacturing market that did not exist a short time ago. These make it imperative for manufacturers to constantly update their skill sets to stay relevant in the workplace. Innovative professionals embrace lifetimes of learning regardless of age, status, or work experience. Continued education in manufacturing is one way to secure the future.