Manufacturing companies – look for these things in your training and development partner

Manufacturing companies – look for these things in your training and development partner

The manufacturing industry is in the midst of change. Widespread technology adoption, increased automation and the drive towards digital transformation and the subsequent dawn of the age of Industry 4.0 are propelling us into a new age of manufacturing…one where productivity is optimal and waste is minimal.

This shiny new age is definitely giving the manufacturing industry the facelift it needs. Traditionally associated with large number of blue collar workers, this era of manufacturing with all its technology implementations and use of gadgets and sensors is moving away from the dim image of the factory that we have so far been used to.

However, as this exciting time comes upon us, manufacturers have to address the conundrum of the growing skills gap. According to Deloitte’s Skills Gap Report, over the next decade, there will be over 3.5 million manufacturing jobs. Owing to the skills gap, almost 2 million of these jobs will remain unfilled. India too is feeling this talent shortage. While the Indian Government is giving the Indian manufacturing ecosystem a push with its Make In India initiative, we still need to equip 15 million people by 2020 to realize this dream.

The thing is, manufacturing now doesn’t just need skilled people. They need multi-skilled people who can thrive in this new technology-driven environment. So while government initiatives to upskill people will lead to a certain decrease in the skills gap, manufacturing companies themselves have to upgrade their learning, development and training initiatives to create a workforce ready for the Factory of the Future.

But what should manufacturing companies be looking for in their training and development partners? Here’s a ready laundry list

Experience – it has to be relevant

Not all manufacturing companies are the same. And not all training companies are created equal. Manufacturing companies have a unique environment. They have unique requirements owing to the change being brought about by technology and automation adoption. Manufacturing companies also have a diverse workforce with diverse needs and learning demands.

The scale of training and development initiatives is also much larger because to the huge numbers being recruited each year. Additionally, there is the challenge of a distributed workforce to mitigate as well – these organizations have a large number of field workers and often manufacturing units are located in different geographies. Manufacturers have to navigate all these challenges and ensure that all the training needs of their workforce are adequately addressed without impacting employee productivity. How can they achieve this if their training and development partner does not understand this unique environment that they work in?

Manufacturing companies need to thus look for training and development partners who have experience in addressing these unique training needs and then delivering industry standard training specific to this industry.

Knowledge – it has to be current

“The times they are a changing”…Bob Dylan’s iconic lyrics seem to resonate eloquently in the changing manufacturing landscape. With the kind of change manufacturing is experiencing with the use of technologies such as IoT, data analytics, AI and Machine Learning, 3D printing, robotics amongst others, the training and development partners of such companies also have to be on top of all the current trends this industry is experiencing. How can you provide training on the supply chain, for example, if your training company doesn’t know the workings of the new and IoT optimized supply chain? Having industry domain expertise to have a complete understanding of the all-round learning needs of the different manufacturing and engineering domains also becomes critical.

Along with having a keen eye on all the latest trends, the training and development company also has to have a sound knowledge repository – their trainers. This repository has to consist of skilled resources and subject matter experts who come from brilliant academic backgrounds and have extended work experience to deliver relevant and impactful training programs.

Training delivery model – it has to be optimized

Learning and training initiatives in the manufacturing environment of today not only have to be comprehensive but also have to be delivered in an optimized manner. Depending solely on classroom training can impede the scale at which knowledge can be delivered owing to the multiple constraints in the manufacturing ecosystem – logistics, training a large workforce together, getting the right trainers all available at the same time without a productivity impact can be an uphill battle.

Training and delivery partners for manufacturing companies thus have to have multiple training delivery models. They have to be proficient in delivering both online and classroom training. They have to know when to employ which training model. They have to have sound knowledge and experience of implementing blended learning programs, along with enabling microlearning, and mLearning. Experience in leveraging gamification, videos, animation, webinars etc. to ensure better knowledge retention also impacts training outcomes and hence, experience in these aspects is something to look out for.

Customization capability – it has to be adequate

The training needs of no two manufacturing companies are the same. Thus, the training and development partners of manufacturing companies have to possess extreme customization capabilities. Capabilities that include thorough need analysis by assessing the learning objectives, accounting for the capabilities of the target audience, understanding the learning subjects and then defining the delivery mode become important to have positive learning outcomes and also lower costs. The training partner also has to develop and deliver learning content based on the organizational objectives, and also ensure that international standards and process benchmarks are being followed at all times.

In this age of constant change, manufacturing companies have to adjust their learning and development objectives with the greater organizational goals and objectives. With the right training plans in place, not only will they be able to mitigate the challenge of the skills gap but also ensure a boost in productivity. However, a good training partner is critical to this success. Choose wisely.