Where is your next generation of workers coming from? It’s a question that has become urgent—across all industries—as manufacturing deals with its growing skills gap. Even though digital transformation initiatives have accelerated globally, the manufacturing sector is still behind in comparison to other sectors. Manufacturers must enhance their digital transformation initiatives if they want to attract the best talent.
Emphasizing High Technology
Young people entering the manufacturing industry tend to gravitate away from manual and laborious tasks on the production line and instead focus on high tech alternatives, like working with modern, intelligent machinery, data analysis tools, and the latest software. These items are more in their “wheelhouse” than manual labor.
And that’s to manufacturing’s benefit. Cutting-edge solutions such as digital quality management software can quickly convert critical shop-floor data into actionable insights to optimize manufacturing operations. But not enough manufacturers have made the switch to an all-digital environment.
A digital quality solution (like Enact® by InfinityQS) provides access to data that opens the door to greater digital initiatives. With digital data that’s available and useable in real time, manufacturers can benefit from other investments in emerging and maturing technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation, analytics, and cloud computing. But none of these initiatives has value until you can capture and use your plant floor data.
These types of solutions will give rise to the evolution towards smart factories driven by data and intelligence, rather than merely sweat and labor, which will be key in attracting the right talent—young minds that are “programmed” for using the latest technologies.
Needs Are Changing
With intelligent automation and IoT growth comes the need for more highly skilled workers to operate and maintain those environments. Automation is creating new types of jobs in manufacturing by phasing out positions that perform repetitive and mundane tasks.
But there’s an added benefit: automation is also increasing the need for highly trained professionals covering a broad range of skills—from mechanical and electrical engineering to advanced mathematics and data analytics.
The Future of Manufacturing
InfinityQS conducted a study that showed that 75% of manufacturers are still manually collecting their data, and nearly half of those are still using paper checklists to record information.
It’s not that manufacturers are patently refusing to embrace digital transformation. They face real roadblocks: perceived cost, fear of failure, extensive change management, and (perhaps the biggest problem) lack of talent to support the new technology.
If you introduce these new technologies, then you need people who understand how to use them effectively. Otherwise, you’ve wasted your money and your time.
The key to initiating change is to think less about the present and more about the future of manufacturing. The new manufacturing workforce is comprised of tech-savvy individuals who are already used to having information at their fingertips—at the click of the mouse or tap of the screen.
Whereas previous generations needed to get comfortable with technology, today’s workforce has grown up with it—they’re hard-wired to deal with it, and in many cases, excel with it. They expect to have the same real-time access to information they’re used to in everyday life on the computers and mobile devices they use on the job—not clipboards, papers, and checklists.
To truly engage this new generation of workers (in fact, to attract them at all), manufacturing needs to keep pace with technology.
Take Advantage of the Digital Environment
Further InfinityQS research has revealed that 52% of respondents already have or are exploring digital transformation initiatives. That increase, or planned increase, in digital transformation is largely due to the impact of COVID-19. What was once a long-term strategic vision became an urgent tactical response to the pandemic. And while it’s great to see this increase, many manufacturers often decide against an investment if it doesn’t show an immediate, big return.
Manufacturers now need to truly capitalize on digital environments. To do this, they must invest in and recruit new talent that can drive even greater levels of innovation. It is vital that manufacturers see this as a long-term, permanent endeavor and not one that dissolves into a missed opportunity.
Closing the Gap
It’s time to change the perception of manufacturing as being unsafe, low-skilled, and insecure. When young people (and their parents) don’t see the rewards of manufacturing careers at an early age, these misconceptions are more likely to persist into high school.
Modern manufacturing jobs are much safer today than in the past; and in many cases they are well-paid high-tech jobs that require skill and competency.
When students reach an age where they need to start thinking about their future career, having a positive perspective on manufacturing can only help.
Getting started with digital data is easier than you might think. Visit InfinityQS and learn how you can get started with our Enact quality platform—FREE—no strings attached. It’s quick and easy to set up—and your plant floor teams will immediately experience the value of having digital data at their fingertips. Learn how to get started now.