Manufacturers and industrial operators around the world are contending with a growing skills shortage resulting from an evolving workforce and the influx of new technologies. These issues are forcing business leaders to reconsider their approach to machinery and facility design, training, technology and safety.
To address these challenges, Rockwell Automation has outlined a five-step approach to help organizations better prepare their operations and empower their workers.
The five steps for addressing workforce availability include:
Improving machinery design to address ergonomics and safety risks for a more diverse workforce, including older and younger workers.
Building a Connected Enterprise to improve productivity and efficiency through information-enabled operations.
Training workers to preserve and pass on the knowledge of experienced workers, and to equip workers with the skills needed to take advantage of new technologies.
Leveraging vendors and suppliers to augment core competencies when specialized skills are only occasionally required or when local talent is not available.
Engaging the community to improve the skills and availability of young workers.
"Workforce availability is a long-term challenge that is largely the result of major industry shifts occurring simultaneously," said Blake Moret, senior vice president, Control Products and Solutions, Rockwell Automation. "Aging workers with deep process understanding are leaving the workforce and being replaced by a new generation of workers. At the same time, new technology is enabling industry to equip their existing workforce with new skills, as facilities and plants become more connected. Manufacturers should look at their workforce development needs as an opportunity to differentiate, not as a cost to be avoided."
These shifts threaten manufacturing success and economic growth around the world. In the U.S. alone, 78 percent of manufacturing executives surveyed believe the skills gap will impact their ability to implement new technologies and increase productivity, according to a report from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute.
Because the availability of skilled workers is shrinking globally, methods such as offshoring and workforce relocation become less effective. The problem must be dealt with by taking a holistic approach to machinery and facility design, training, technology and safety.