What About Training?
Forward-thinking companies are always looking for competitive advantages, and training your personnel can be your competitive edge.
The U.S. manufacturing industry is in the process of a digital revolution as it strives to keep in step with an evolving global economy. The Internet of Things (IoT), combined with automation and machine learning has the potential to facilitate this digital transformation. However, these advances will not be possible without trained people.
Furthermore, the real challenge to growth is the limited talent pool and the shortage of trained people, or even people to be trained.
An alarming fact is that the plastics industry’s total number of employees has decreased by over 20% in the last three years. Consequently, everyone is trying to do more with less. Unfortunately, this stretches responsibilities into areas where the workforce has no experience, and training is key to addressing this issue.
Technology and automation can free up your existing workforce to carry out new and more rewarding tasks. So first look within, there are excellent training resources available to ensure your production team is current with the latest technologies and efficient as possible.
An excellent place to start is to inquire with your equipment suppliers. Leading equipment suppliers offer operational training essential for basic operations, but also check if there is more advanced training available.
Most vendors’ have product specialists and application engineers that can take you to the next level with consultative training focused on your specific needs.
Online and virtual training has also become available and is very effective. Such training is usually in modules, so less interference with everyday production challenges by allocating hours rather than days. It is also very cost-effective as travel and accommodation costs are not required. Virtual tradeshows have also been a success, and typically the resources from the show are offered over an extended period.
Unfortunately, for many companies training often takes a back seat to production demands. Some may be even reluctant to train because of the fear of poaching in the talent pool, but if we all engage in training, which is essential to moving our industry forward, that becomes less of an issue, and as one wise person said,
What if you train your people and they leave, but more importantly, what if you don’t train them and they stay!
So, what does the future of training look like? While online training has its benefits, many companies are looking forward to in-person classes and practical training returning. In addition, training centers provide escape from the pressures and interruptions of production, so there is more focused attention and ultimately better retention.
There will still be a blend of online training, and we will continue to see developments in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, where hands-on training is essential. This training will be highly beneficial in machine monitoring and maintenance.
Companies will need to budget for training in the same way as they do for new equipment and R&D, for example. Without adequate training and education, we will not keep our people within the plastics industry, nor will we attract new people.
The quest for training in our industry is a fundamental matter to the Turner Group. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing helpful information from leading training companies within our industry. In the meantime, we hope you will find the links below helpful.