Web exclusive: Data explosion requires a new skill set for workers

Study by Manpower indicates that education programs aren't modernizing fast enough to keep up with pace of technology growth.

09/19/2013


Jorge Perez, senior vice president for Manpower. Courtesy: ManpowerThe latest study by global talent recruiter Manpower on the manufacturing workforce looked at the issue of finding workers to manage the emerging technological acceleration in manufacturing. Overall, "while manufacturing technologies are likely to become somewhat easier to implement and operate over the next several years,” the study noted. “They are also likely to become much more widespread within manufacturing environments. This suggests that the demand for techs will rise, and that they will have to play a more hands-on role in installing, adjusting, and maintaining (manufacturing technology) devices within their organizations.

“In addition, the rise of cellular manufacturing—environments in which workers in relatively autonomous teams manufacture entire products or complex product components—as well as the increased ease of use of MT devices, suggest that there will be less of a distinction between factory-floor manufacturing workers and techs.”

Plant Engineering (PE) discussed these findings with Jorge Perez, senior vice president for Manpower, as well as their implications for manufacturers looking to expand or restock their workforce.

PE: The Manpower Manufacturing study seems to indicate the proliferation of data is coming fast in manufacturing. What are the barriers to using data more effectively?

Perez: From the talent perspective, the proliferation of data is accelerating both the speed of technology development and its integration on the manufacturing floor. As such, educational programs are not modernizing fast enough to manufacture a steady supply of talent with the right skills.

Today’s talent needs to clearly understand why they need to be life-time learners and continually add skills in order to be employable. Likewise, companies and local educational systems need to collaboratively define comprehensive and scalable skills-training programs that will maintain a healthy pipeline of talent for area employers.

PE: We hear so much about how tech-savvy the younger generations are, and manufacturing is clearly a high-tech business today. Why is there still a disconnection between young workers and high-tech manufacturing jobs?

Perez: Great question. Our surveys and candidate feedback tell us that high-tech positions have not been perceived as great career opportunities. As a society, we have done a great job of encouraging students to earn four-year college degrees, but they are overlooking the value and great career options offered by technical and skilled vocations, which often require two-year degrees.

High-tech business and educational systems have to do a much better job at repositioning the value and real opportunities available within technical and skilled trades. These jobs are critical and in supply in today’s economy.

79% of manufacturing managers stated, “manufacturing technologies are increasingly computer-based, and require many of the skills to manage and operate as computers do.”

There is still a perception that manufacturing is just hard and dirty work. The reality is that most high-tech facilities offer cutting-edge environments with a strong safety culture, high performance standards and great career development opportunities. 

PE: The line between IT and operations also has been blurred or erased. What are the implications for manufacturing operations?

Perez: The challenge for employers is to re-position the value of technical jobs in order to attract and retain talent. And they need to maintain a continuous training/educational program that keeps talent up to speed with the pace of their company’s innovation. 

PE: One conclusion of the Manpower Manufacturing study is that while engineering and IT degrees will be valued, some of this work can be done by well-trained people with aptitude. What’s the key to finding these kinds of workers, and what role do all the stakeholders in manufacturing have to play in filling those jobs.

Perez: Here is where the re-branding of manufacturing jobs from all industry stakeholders—including corporations, educational systems and local governments—is critical.

To build an essential pipeline of talent, all stakeholders need to start working with kids at the middle-school level to demystify the intensive integrated work that happens on the manufacturing floor and expose the modern value of today’s manufacturing environment and jobs.

PE: What should manufacturers who are facing a worker shortage in high-tech jobs like the ones in your report be doing to address this issue? 

Perez: They need to reach out to local educational systems and governments and create a regional plan for developing the talent pipeline required by area employers.

There is no simple solution, but there is a very good opportunity to alleviate the skills shortage gap if stakeholders in a local economy can collaboratively customize a plan that meets their local needs.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
Inside IIoT: How technology, strategy can improve your operation; Dry media or web scrubber?; Six steps to design a PM program
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming
Managing automation upgrades, retrofits; Making technical, business sense; Ensuring network cyber security
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me