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Study Predicts Future Skills Needed in Manufacturing Industry

After the last couple of years, who wouldn’t have liked to have a personal crystal ball? Many throughout the manufacturing industry could greatly benefit from being able to see the longer-term impact of supply chain disruptions, a tight labor market and ongoing inflation.

At the end of 2022, The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development, and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, in partnership with Rockwell Automation and PTC software released a forward-looking study for the manufacturing industry. Titled Future Skill Needs in Manufacturing: A Deep Dive, the study made predictions on where the manufacturing industry is headed over the next 5 to 10 years and how these changes will impact employee skill sets.

The research in the report considered four different industries within the manufacturing industry. The analysis concentrated on electric vehicles and battery production, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals and logistics and also looked at sustainability and ESG efforts, which are on the to-do list of many businesses.

Not surprisingly, advanced processes and innovations will continue to necessitate employees have advanced data and tech skill sets. Employees will not only be asked to work with machines generating data, but they will also need to cultivate the skill of data analysis. Because nothing remains static in technology, it will be also necessary for employers to offer continuous learning for employees. But these so-called hard skills but don’t replace the ongoing need for soft skills. Employers will continue to value strong written and verbal communication and collaboration skills in addition to critical thinking and problem solving. The skills of new hires will also need to be more sophisticated, according to the report.

The study recommended starting the process by taking an inventory of the skills current workers possess. This could be in the form of questionnaires or semi-structured conversations about the skills an employee may already have but do not currently use in their role. Once there is an inventory of skills in-house, there is an opportunity to create reciprocal mentoring where junior employees, who may be more advanced technically, could share their knowledge with more senior employees and vice versa.

This dual-pronged effort will necessitate the businesses earmark budget for more investment in training programs designed to develop and grow their employees, particularly as technology advancements come into play. But companies need not do all of this on their own. They can increase talent and skills training by creating educational partnerships with local certification programs.

This could include partnerships with schools to integrate classroom instruction and relevant work experience. When recruiting new talent, businesses should also consider equivalent experience and certifications as an alternative to a traditional degree. Hiring pipelines can include a variety of resources including high schools, universities and local community colleges and trade schools.

With change coming faster than ever, manufacturers need to make their organizations as resilient and responsive to industry-level and macroeconomic trends, particularly when it comes to filling skill needs.

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