“Up-skilling” – An Investment in Education for Workers
In a tight labor market, searching for new workers with a specific skill set to enhance an automated production line is challenging for human resource recruiters. The capabilities of these new workers can be readily applied to new manufacturing technology with proper training and “up-skilling.” In the manufacturing industry, it is imperative that workers take the initiative to learn new skills in preparation for the continued rise of automation if they want to remain relevant in their fields.
One valuable tool for applying “up-skilling” to specific manufacturing jobs is a company apprenticeship program. It seemed that apprenticeships fell out of fashion in the United States when educators and parents began to place a greater emphasis on the traditional four-year degree. However, as opportunities for “up-skilling” continue to grow, apprenticeships are making a comeback as more companies, educators, policymakers and non-profit groups come together to make them more mainstream. President Trump’s executive order to double funding for apprenticeships in 2017 seems to have put work-based learning on the map for United States manufacturing companies. States that have implemented increased apprenticeship opportunities have seen tremendous success with manufacturing companies in their areas.
Overall, industry experts emphasize that manufacturers need to have an ongoing education program and succession plan to keep pace with industry changes and identify gaps in workers’ skillsets. Unfortunately, training budgets are usually one of the things that get cut as a cost-saving exercise. When budget cuts occur, employers often find four or five years later that they have a skills gap and succession planning hasn't taken place properly. A company training program, such as an exclusive apprenticeship, can help companies funnel talent into their succession plan and keep the workplace engaging for employees.