A recent article on Industry Week on the training imperative noted that, despite the record high unemployment rates, many U.S. manufacturers are having difficulty finding the right people with the right skills to fill a variety of positions. It’s not so much a skills shortage as it is a skills gap — and there’s looming concern that the gap will grow as baby boomers begin to retire. (Now, if they’d also stated that this situation holds true throughout the supply chain, Charles would be doing the river dance right now, because it does. And only a few of us seem to be willing to acknowledge this.)
Why is this the case? The article offers a couple of explanations, noting that what was considered adequate 15 years ago would be nowhere near adequate today and, due to the outsourcing of low-skilled jobs to low-labor-cost countries, the remaining jobs require a much higher skill level, and the average has gone up in terms of the amount of training needed per employee.
But the reality is that this shouldn’t be a problem. Whereas training programs were few and far between in the past, we now have private training and certification programs; more and more colleges and universities instituting new certificate, diploma, and degrees in manufacturing and supply chain every term; a number of online programs that teach basic theory and skills; and, in manufacturing, a number of e-training providers are now providing simulation technology that will teach people how to operate a piece of machinery or fix a machine without actually having to practice on a multi-million dollar piece of equipment. (This is becoming especially common in the Oil & Gas sector.) All you have to do is commit to the programs and your people will get where they need to be. Companies just need to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.