Secrets to Overcoming the Qualified Worker Crunch

As manufacturers struggle to find qualified shop floor workers, it’s not enough to hope secondary education will improve.  It’s time to start finding solutions ourselves.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Managing and controlling information is the key to successfully training new employees.

Managing and controlling information is the key to successfully training new employees.

A recent survey by The Chronicle and the American Public Media Marketplace shined a light on the struggles manufacturers face when hiring qualified employees.  In an article reviewing the survey, hiring managers described potential candidates as, “woefully unprepared,” saying they lacked, “basic workplace proficiencies,” or even the, “ability to solve complex problems.”  Assessments such as these do not bode well for the future of manufacturing.

It is easy for businesses to blame higher education.  According to another article, “In 2008, the Boeing Company ranked colleges based on how well their graduates performed within the corporation.” Some blame does rest with education programs, but not all of it.

Technology and processes are continually adapting.  New tools are constantly shaping the workplace.  Many companies struggle internally to adapt to these changes.  It is unrealistic to expect education to incorporate change any quicker.  Additionally, new employees struggle with entering organizations where information is secularized in Information silos.  Many times, new employees replace retirees, and have no access to the critical company information contained in those silos – silos that are many times reflect the accumulated knowledge of the retiring employee.

As we look for solutions, we should start with how we are currently managing corporate information.  No matter the source of the “worker crunch,” there are ways businesses, especially manufacturers, can help prepare new employees while improving current operations.  The goal should be getting the right information to the right people at the right time.  For example:

  • Capturing Work Flow and Process Information from work experience that is currently in use within an information system.
  • Collecting and archiving these rich work flow experiences as Best Practices are a good way of ensuring information isn’t lost in a silo, and you have clear goals and processes in place when it is time to onboard a new employee.
  • A library of On-demand Training is an effective way to teach best practices.  It ensures employees are maximizing efficiency and quality, and allow your team targeted training lessons when they will have the greatest impact without pulling people from more productive work.
  • Increase Internal Collaboration with a shared data base and a single version of the truth in your internal records.  Process controls that collect data in a single, shared database help eliminate those challenges.
  • Procedural Enforcement is another way you can ensure best practices are adopted and used by your team, and will improve quality.
  • Study how you Control and Manage Information in your company.  Many times, especially in paper-based systems, there is no way to adequately collect and control data, and new employees will step into a system with no access to the information they need to be successful.

Successful companies begin with an effective workforce.  While it is easy to cast blame for the worker crunch, there are steps a smart business can take to ensure new employees have the greatest chance of success.  Those steps start by capturing, managing and distributing information and eliminating information silos, and will improve production, increase quality, and benefit employee morale.

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