Plant of the Future: A new workforce needs new skills, training

How will hiring, training, and staff retention have to change as a result?

By Plant Engineering Staff August 24, 2018

Kevin Lewis, Siemens

The current manufacturing workforce is very experienced,but many will be retiring in the next five to 10 years. As a result, it is critical to attract early career talent into the manufacturing workforce. These early career resources are digital natives with expectations to be working with the most modern tools and platforms. The best way to attract and retain this talent to manufacturing jobs in the future is by applying the most modern automation technology, engineering tools, and data analytics within your operations. As manufacturing continues to shift to fully automated assembly lines, some manual jobs will shift to using robots for certain manufacturing tasks, thereby creating new highly skilled, digital positions in other parts of the factory. Humans and machines will each play a critical role,working side by side in the manufacturing process.Company leaders will have to make a choice as skills requirements undergo a radical change. They can be more inclusive and facilitate training programs for their employees. Or, they can sit back and watch as open positions become harder to fill. Every company leader must ask a fundamental question: What I am doing to help my employees gain the skills they need to be successful in the digital age?If a company is driving their digital transformation, then it must also be in the business of industrial reskilling for current and aspiring employees.

John Glenski, Automation Plus

One change will be a decrease in hiring as overall automation of plant facilities increases.Hiring/training will also likely change as employees will need to be trained to understand not only their equipment but the interaction with surrounding equipment. Management may need to have greater expertise as the use of temporary staff could increase incrementally as full-time/direct staff decreases.

Paul Galeski, MAVERICK

More modernized, 21st-century systems that provide a safer, more intuitive environment should help attract younger engineers to the workforce. Companies will need to hire staff with an automation or engineering background, as well as those with operational backgrounds to capture and understand valuable IP data sets. They can then make data-driven decisions that can be aligned with the organization’s goals and objectives to improve operational productivity and efficiency.More virtualized training environments will be able to walk people through safety issues without the actual situation happening. They can also simulate an operational environment for testing and training before going live with the process.

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