The Duravant family of operating companies serve the food processing, packaging and material handling segments.
The Importance of a United Front by Manufacturers to Address the Workforce Skills Gap
As the world around us continues to change, one constant is the growing workforce skills gap. For those in industrial/manufacturing companies, this isn’t news. We’ve been in the trenches trying to highlight why these careers are something to be proud of and how these careers provide career fulfillment and long-term opportunities. For so long, college was the path pushed on youth and those looking for career changes. When you add the struggles COVID brought, including an inability to provide necessary hands-on training, the candidate pools continue to thin.
Many seasoned workers are approaching their retirement years, and when these veterans exit the business, so too goes decades of tribal knowledge; the ins and outs that are learned from years in a field. We’ve faced the question “how do we translate this knowledge to those just starting their careers?” However, the solution isn’t clear cut, and certainly not a one-size-fits-all solution. But what we have found is that it will take a collective effort from our competitors, our industry peers, and anyone with a hand in manufacturing/industrial companies to solve this ongoing issue.
“How Do We Solve the Skills Gap?”
This is a loaded question, and overwhelming to say the least. For us at nVenia, it starts with addressing the awareness challenge. We are working constantly to build relationships across our region to open our doors, virtually and in person, to associations, schools, and state offices to highlight why we believe manufacturing skills should be sought after and invested in. And that’s something that needs a collective effort, because while in many ways we are in a “war” for talent, if we continue to fight each other, we’ll never move the collective effort forward.
From there, you’re set with the next set of challenges, including training. We default to a “shadow” approach that has really been the standard in manufacturing for decades. However, as we’ve seen learning methods evolve, we know that approach isn’t the best for everyone.
Many challenges abound when it comes to training, including:
- time spent away from the production floor means less product out the door.
- ensuring your trainers are equipped to deliver training in the most effective manner.
- not defaulting to those who are technically strongest to deliver training, as communication and training delivery may not be a strong suit.
- the evaluation and training of your trainers.
Creating an open dialogue with your newly hired employees and awareness of the above challenges will set everyone up for success. Embracing manufacturing and trade positions the same way we onboard “professional” roles will ensure we adapt to individual training needs and stop the cycle of turnover within the industry.
We are likely in the trenches for the foreseeable future, but it will take all companies joining together to spread the awareness on what the industry - and careers - have become today. nVenia is an innovative, best-in-class employer, but if we are shadowed by the old perception of manufacturing, we all fail. Join your communities, evaluate your training programs, and encourage every voice within your industry to spread the message that manufacturing, at long last, is returning to all its glory, chasing and pushing innovation every step of the way.
By Jess Giudici, Senior Human Resources Manager, Duravant