Manufacturing is in the middle of a change. The Silver Tsunami has already begun as more and more Baby Boomers are retiring. Manufacturers are also dealing with the skills gap, where it’s difficult to get new employees with experience. Manufacturers are getting squeezed from both sides, so training has become even more important for new and current employees.
New or Future Employees
If you can hire employees who already have manufacturing skills, it makes getting them started in your shop much easier. Gen Z is coming into their own and looking for jobs. However, not everyone has worked in manufacturing before. Fortunately, there are several ways to get the interest of potential manufacturing employees and train them.
Hiring a new employee as an apprentice can be incredibly helpful for getting them trained. If they’re hired into this position, they’re not expected to know much of anything about manufacturing. That means there aren’t bad habits for you to train out of them, and you don’t have to find where their blind spots are because you’re training them on everything. The US has also been awarding grants to close the skills gap, which makes it easier for shops to have apprenticeships.
The first Friday in October is MFG Day. MFG Day is a day when manufacturers are encouraged to invite the community into their shops and show them what a job in manufacturing involves. There are several ways to approach MFG Day, depending on what your shop’s goals are. It can be helpful for potential employees to see what your shop is like or for students to learn more about manufacturing. If your shop interests students when they’re still in school, you’ll have a better chance of hiring them when they’re in the workforce.
Many shops have also found success in partnering with local schools. Well-stocked and well-run shop classes make manufacturing seem more interesting. Robotics competitions appeal to students who like to build things, so several manufacturers have become involved in these competitions. The goal is to reach kids before they’ve made a decision about their future careers and show them what manufacturing is really like. Too many kids, and parents, assume that manufacturing is “dirty, dark, and dangerous.” Partnering with local schools or competitions for students gives manufacturers a chance to show them the reality.
Not all training is for new employees. Current employees need training as well, whether it’s to brush up their skills or to learn new ones. In addition, providing ongoing training can increase your shop’s value and make employees more motivated. It’s important to stay on top of new things in your industry, and helping your employees keep up will do wonders for your shop.
If one person doesn’t come in for their shift, does it shut the shop down? One of the easiest ways to keep your shop running, no matter who is out, is through cross-training. For example, the more machines your employees know how to run, the easier it is for them to fill in when needed. Giving your employees the opportunity to learn new things will also keep them around longer. No one wants to do the same thing forever.
Vendor Training Material
It takes training to run most things in a shop. Each machine has its own manual and training requirements, ERP systems have training as well. While it’s not a good idea to overwhelm your employees with the training material, it’s also a good idea to make sure they know how to use everything in your shop. For example, when software updates, it’s best to know how to use the new features.
Earning certifications can be helpful for your shop both because your shop runs better and because potential customers will be impressed. There are individual certifications your employees could earn, like Six Sigma, or there are shop-wide certifications like ISO. Individual certifications will help your employees grow individually, but it also helps your employees if your shop is ISO certified. Either way, your employees get to learn new things and your shop can run more efficiently.
Shop Training Manual
Having an up-to-date training manual is critical for training your manufacturing employees correctly. If you’re like a lot of shops, jobs change frequently, and your training manual might not be current anymore. Creating a training manual can be time-consuming, but if it’s kept up to date, then it will be easier for employees to fill in if another employee is absent, or someone retires. The Silver Tsunami is still hitting shops, as more and more Boomers retire, and having documented processes and best practices will help shops survive.
Change is in the air and it’s up to manufacturers to face it. Training employees and teaching students about manufacturing is a great way to begin. The more your employees learn the more efficient your shop can be.