Manufacturing executives have been losing sleep over the worker shortage for a few years. Why aren’t there enough workers?  The most common response to this question from companies and advocacy groups is that there is a fundamental skills gap.  Workers just don’t have the skillset it takes to operate in today’s high technology manufacturing workplace. The answer could be efficient on-the-job training.

Worker going through on-the-job training with a water jet cutter

Importance of continuous on-the-job training

Advanced manufacturing technology is transforming the image of manufacturing employment from a sweaty job of last resort to an intellectually demanding occupation. By making knowledge an implicit part of manufacturing practice, for workers as well as management, advanced manufacturing technology is creating a need for a more educated workforce.

The development of manufacturing skills does not occur in the abstract. It is related to a set of goals, specifically to the creation and maintenance of a well-trained, flexible, and motivated manufacturing workforce, comprising prospective workers as well as current workers at all conventional levels, including technical professionals and managers, mid-level technicians, and shop floor personnel.

Technology is bridging the gap

Training workers with new technologies is the focus of many companies. Honeywell Technologies is using new technologies to help companies onboard and train workers. These technologies – they span from video instruction to AR/VR -, in tandem with intelligent wearables, enable knowledge to be captured and transferred in new and efficient ways. Instead of traditional classroom learning, Honeywell’s training program allows someone to actually perform the task and therefore the learning curve is much faster.

Speeding up the learning curve is especially important since younger workers are not willing to spend the 15 years of training it used to require to be competent at performing some of these jobs. Digital training is especially appealing to millennials who grew up with technology and want to have that an inherent part of the job that they are doing.