Advanced technology introduced by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has caused a huge shift, altering the career skills required to accomplish the tech-driven manufacturing jobs of today and tomorrow. As a result, staffing methods that have worked for many companies in the past are often ineffective with Generation Y (millennials) and Generation Z
, prompting recruiters to adapt their hiring practices to better support the future of Manufacturing 5.0 – where STEM-based knowledge and human soft skills (aka: essential skills) will work cohesively with robotic technology to reach top operational performance.
The Value of Collaboration
In a tight labor market, where 71% of manufacturers have expressed that skilled workers are increasingly harder to find
, unique methods are being used to connect with potential candidates to fill the primary skill sets needed to complete industrial tasks. While attempts to attract qualified workers vary, the chief theme among them is the idea of collaboration.
That said, one of the most important ways for manufacturers to groom and recruit skilled workers for a brighter future is by working jointly with local school systems, promoting advanced manufacturing careers in robotics and automation that are necessary to filling the job gap. But, how is this done and what should it look like?
For leading manufacturers that have taken steps toward workforce development, the following activities are proving useful towards building a relevant manufacturing workforce
Manufacturers should help implement a fluid approach to technology utilization and information sharing across all grade levels. To best support these training efforts, manufacturing experts should be instrumental in creating course curricula that reflects the latest technology. Furthermore, these experts should regularly interact with area school decision makers to help guide the necessary coursework for modern day workforce development.
Helpful for high school, trade school and college level students, manufacturers should be willing to mobilize their robot engineers and other advanced technology experts for the purpose of mentoring students that are serious about careers in manufacturing. Consistent interactions with students, via a school program such as a Career Readiness Program, can encourage dedication to STEM-based learning, along with essential skills training. Relationships of this nature help manufacturers build rapport before graduation, and they strengthen the local talent pipeline, which contributes to thriving communities.
Whether a company is a large OEM or a small job shop, an effort should be made to reach out to area schools to see what workforce development needs exist. While some schools may have financial demands for buying STEM-centric education equipment
, a wide range of needs most likely exists, and there is a way for every manufacturer to get involved. From tutoring and mentoring to specific grants for curricula and equipment, “adopting” a specific school or school district can help bolster the workforce of tomorrow.
While traditional internships still exist (particularly for college students), companies can also partner with area high schools or trade schools to host pre-employment apprenticeship programs. This is a great way to introduce students to workplace culture and demands, exposing them to challenging situations where soft skills like active thinking, time management and interpersonal communication are needed.
Local government agencies, manufacturing companies and career centers should form strategic partnerships, where representatives exchange industry knowledge and best practices to create solutions that effectively address local manufacturing concerns and labor challenges. Not only do mutually-beneficial relationships of this nature help to create a highly-sustainable workforce model by providing educators and students with curriculum and training to become proficient in advanced technology, but also these partnerships fashion the foundation needed to move America’s workforce forward.
Much of this is done by creating in-lab instruction strategies, developing industry-recognized robotic certifications, implementing augmented and virtual realty (VR) technologies to develop training tools, and incorporating industry-preferred robotic equipment that is aligned to the overall manufacturing base.
The Benefit of Optimism
Aside from collaboration, building optimism for advanced manufacturing and robotics industry professions is vital. Regional expos like TechFest
in southwest Ohio and grassroots events surrounding National Robotics Week
(NRW) contribute a high level of enthusiasm to audiences of all ages about the importance of the U.S. robotics industry and the impact of robots on society.
To help fuel optimism for advanced manufacturing careers in robotics and automation, Yaskawa Motoman will support National Robotics Week by hosting pre-scheduled tours of our main headquarters and manufacturing facility in Miamisburg, Ohio. Each tour provides students (ranging from middle school to college level) with the chance to see a variety of real-world robotic demonstrations and to interact with robotics professionals to learn about career opportunities that can help fill the job gap.
The Pathway to Success
While there is no set path to building a robust and highly-skilled workforce, manufacturers have a critical responsibility to do what they can to locally collaborate and build optimism for STEM-related fields. For company leaders unsure of where to start, attending a local school board meeting or reaching out to an education nonprofit may be beneficial. Regardless of the course taken by a manufacturer, however, the steps made are sure to make a bright impact on the future of tomorrow’s workforce.
Sarah Mellish is a Marketing Content Specialist