Category Archives: Blended learning

Various flavours of training in manufacturing – when to pick what?

The manufacturing sector in India is booming, and it has emerged as one of the high growth sectors in India.  According to the Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index published by Deloitte, by the year 2020, India will be the fifth largest manufacturing country in the world. Under its Make in India initiative, by 2022, the Government of India wants the manufacturing sector to contribute up to 25 percent to the GDP.

To compete for its global ranking, the Indian manufacturing industry needs to address a few key challenges. For instance, the retirement of the experienced class has resulted in the loss of expertise and fewer opportunities for the young generation. This gap is widening, to say the least. The young generation of workers needs to be effectively trained on not only the age-old manufacturing best practices but also on the latest tools and technologies and paradigm shifts which are coming because of Smart Manufacturing.

The training needs of manufacturing

The manufacturing industry is one of the strongest and largest enterprises of the globe. CEO, Jay Timmons of the National Association of Manufacturers, believes that a skilled workforce is the cornerstone of manufacturing industries and the success factor of the economy. In India, even the government is trying to mitigate the skills shortage by offering incentives and subsidies for an upgrade in the technological subsector.

The Indian manufacturing industry has traditionally relied on classroom training for their workforce. With the proliferation of Internet and mobile and the fact that the young workforce is entering the industry, it is also warming up to the adoption of eLearning. However, there always confusion about which training mode is best suited for the company. Obviously, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. The type of training depends a lot on the training needs and learning objectives.

Let us take a look –

For awareness and knowledge creation

For manufacturing firms, companies often need to train the large workforce and GETs on concepts like safety, compliance, accounts, or new concepts like Industry 4.0. Conducting these types of training programs in a classroom environment can be incredibly time-consuming and costly. eLearning works very well in these situations. With eLearning, a large workforce can be quickly trained – without causing any significant downtime and as per the convenience of the workforce. That apart, all the courses can be thoroughly tracked. Studies show that manufacturing companies have witnessed a rise of 25-60% in employee retention with the use of eLearning.

Skill Development

The manufacturing industry employs multi-skilled employees who need to perform a wide variety of tasks. Many of these tasks require basic as well as highly specialized training. The employees also need to be updated about the latest happenings on an ongoing basis. For these training objectives, companies need to go with a combination of eLearning and classroom training. eLearning courses can offer the basic training and classroom trainings can be leveraged for more hands-on and advanced training courses. For the ongoing training needs, again eLearning can be adopted.

Expertise Development

A small but important portion of the workforce needs to be trained to become experts at the job. For this type of training, one classroom session or a series of eLearning courses may not be enough. The workforce might need on-going mentorship wherein the mentor is available on an on-going basis to clarify doubts, brainstorm on ideas, or seek opinions. Such on-going engagement with the mentors ensures concept reinforcement leading to an increase in productivity.

What should manufacturing companies look for in their training partner?

In 2017, the US manufacturing corporations spent nearly $161 Billion on corporate training, indeed a massive amount of investment! Manufacturing companies are leaving no stone unturned in training their workforce.

It is quite evident that because of the unique peculiarities of the industry, to effectively address the training needs of this industry, the training partner needs to possess specific capabilities, skills, and qualities. These include –

  1. Subject matter expertise – It is essential for the training partner to have a pool of subject matter experts who come with strong industry background and are well-versed with the practical aspects of the manufacturing operations
  2. Learning solutions expertise -The training partner should have expertise in all types of training methods – be it eLearning, classroom training, or blended learning
  3. Industry domain expertise – The training company should have industry domain expertise
  4. Process expertise – The training company should have experience of working with other manufacturing companies – only then the company can understand the intricacies of working in the unique set up

Are you looking to increase the RoI of your training initiatives? At Enggenious, we have worked with several manufacturing and engineering companies and helped them successfully design, develop, and deliver their training programs. Our large team of Subject Matter Experts with an average work experience of 30+ years and training experts will be happy to discuss your specific training needs and offer the right solution.

New age training strategies for the millennial manufacturing workforce

The face of manufacturing is changing. The rise of new technology, increasing global pressure, and the coming of Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing have been responsible for ushering in this change. In this changing environment, hiring and retaining a qualified workforce that can adapt to this new environment is a challenge that manufacturers have to address. A survey conducted by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) shows that 30% of the survey respondents feel that the lack of qualified labor contributes to lost opportunities. 64.5% of those surveyed also believe that creating and expanding internal training programs can help in addressing the labor problem plaguing this industry.

However, what this industry also needs to consider is the rapidly growing number of millennials. These millennials are people who grew up in the age of evolving technology. In the United States, millennials constitute a significant part of the population, 8.1 million. Pew Research Centre reports that one in three workers is a millennial. This new workforce, owing to their comfort with technology, is already changing the manufacturing and supply chain for the better. Luigi De Bernardini, CEO of Autoware, an Austin, Texas-based Schneider Electric partner, “The expectations of the new generation when they enter the work environment will be totally different. They are used to apps, they’re used to different ways of communicating, and this is in some way … something we need to manage.

While organizations focus on making the industry and the shop floor attractive for the millennials, adopt technologies such as IoT, AI, Robotics, and as concepts like Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing cement their place in the manufacturing landscape, they also have to revisit their training strategies to make it relevant for this workforce.

So what new age training strategies do these companies need to adopt? Millennials are driven towards finding alternatives to do a job faster. When it comes to learning and development, it is no different. Relying solely on classroom training and static lectures will not lead to the knowledge gain that is expected of them. Learning and development departments thus have to ensure that their training strategies become more engaging, inspiring and easy to consume. Here’s a look at a few considerations that go into training this workforce.

Contextual relevance

Relevance drives the millennial generation. They want a rationale behind everything that they do. They seek ‘value’ in everything that they engage with. The same feeling extends to training as well. In the manufacturing sector, training has to adapt to this change and evaluate methods to make the training content more engaging. The content has to be synthesized to help them understand the rationale behind the same. From onboarding to job-specific training, context holds primary importance and has to facilitate knowledge discovery. The training courses, thus, have to be revamped and training providers have to leverage all assets at their disposal such as mobile learning, gamification, augmented reality, etc. to ensure maximum knowledge dissemination and absorption.


The millennial generation is the largest smartphone user. As mobile is an integral part of their lives, training strategies have to leverage mLearning. mLearning also becomes a useful tool since knowledge here is disseminated in small, bite-sized and easily consumable modules. Mobile also facilitates anywhere-anytime learning, giving these people opportunities to learn on the go, irrespective of their location. For manufacturing companies, this can be a huge boon especially to train teams who are in geographically disparate locations and for field workers who are constantly on move.


Gamification in eLearning has proved its effectiveness. It helps in mixing work and play and, hence, appeals to this generation who believes that nothing, even the most boring concepts, should not be ‘boring’. In the age of digitization, learning has to adopt a creative approach to ensure greater knowledge absorption. Using elements such as storytelling, including challenges, establishing rules and goals in a game format make learning far more engaging. And with the millennials, engagement rules the roost. Gamification also gives learners immediate feedback. This helps in taking proactive corrective action during the training process and ensures better training results.

The social connect

Being the most active users of social media, social networking becomes a tool to develop better training modules for this workforce. As a socially plugged-in generation, these workers are not only comfortable communicating with friends over social media but also are comfortable leveraging it for business. By integrating social media with the learning strategy, manufacturers can facilitate collaboration to drive learning experiences. Social media can be used to collaborate on projects, solve problems, complete assignments, and also get quick and proactive feedback.


Video is replacing text everywhere. Training and learning and development initiatives are no different. Rich and informative video content that is contextual, to-the-point, and precise help a great deal in capturing the millennial generation’s attention. With video, content can be easily broken down into small segments. Training teams also get the flexibility to introduce short summaries of the content to establish relevance. It is also an established fact that highly visual formats lead to better knowledge retention. A video learning strategy fulfills all these criteria and, hence, it becomes a formidable weapon for training departments. As with mobile, video too can help disseminate learning to geographically distant teams and frontline workers and gives them the option to feel more involved with the training process.

Blended learning

In the manufacturing segment, while online learning can help in increasing awareness and knowledge, classroom training can be used in conjunction with eLearning for more targeted skilling. Such blended learning approach helps training departments to develop a new training strategy that is targeted and scalable to address the changing needs and demands of the millennial workforce. A focus on aspects such as personalization, greater customization can be motivating for the millennials and a blended learning approach enables that. Training and development need to adopt these engaging elements to make learning more effective. At the same time, training departments have to ensure that the trainers employed in classroom training are highly skilled, have industry experience, and are committed to understanding the new learning graph of this generation to make sure that classroom training is not a snooze fest.

On a parting note, it helps to state that while these new-age training strategies might have been developed with the millennial generation in mind, the ultimate objective is to make learning and training fun and more engaging. This is a kind of makeover that shouldn’t just be restricted to just one generation, should it?

How manufacturing companies can prepare their entire workforce for Industry 4.0

Automation, IoT, Machine Learning, advanced analytics, cognitive technologies and others are geared to create an enterprise that is more interconnected and data-driven. The end objective is to enable better decision-making and improve business outcomes. The impact of these technologies is felt in all industries, and manufacturing is no different. The rapid adoption of technology has paved the way for disruptive development in this sector and has brought to us the Fourth Industrial Revolution, commonly known as Industry 4.0 that brings with it the promise of changing the manufacturing industry as we know it.

Industry 4.0 – a primer

Industry 4.0 employs the use of technologies such as Big Data, Industrial Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and others to get solutions to complex problems and make the assembly line more efficient. According to a PWC report called ‘Industry 4.0: Building the Digital Enterprise’, we are already in the front and center of this revolution with over 72% manufacturing companies using data analytics to improve customer intelligence and customer service. 35% of companies adopting Industry 4.0 expect 20% higher returns over the next five years, and 86% of manufacturers expect lower costs and higher revenues.

Countries such as Germany and Japan have been the pioneers of Industry 4.0 and have shown that its adoption has improved their business outcomes. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that Industry 4.0 has brought about a paradigm shift in manufacturing by replacing rigid value chains and transforming them into highly flexible networks.

Why is manufacturing moving towards Industry 4.0?

Since Industry 4.0 is built on the concept of end-to-end visibility, efficiency, and agility across every touch point in the value chain, it gives manufacturers the capability to assess how they can reduce overhead costs while remaining flexible to respond to unforeseen changes in production programs.

Industry 4.0 is more than just production. It is all about how smart and connected technologies can change the way products are designed, built, used and maintained. Apart from transforming the production cycle, Industry 4.0 also transforms the organization itself by presenting new ways to consume and interpret information and achieve operational excellence by improving decision making. Deutsche Bank Research, in their report the ‘New Industrial Revolution’ states that the smart manufacturing initiatives show a productivity jump of almost 30%.

Clearly, Industry 4.0 is not just about the shop floor but about the entire organization and how technology can be used to harness growth. We are seeing increased use of sensors and wearables, machine learning, advanced computer numerical control, and robotics to enable product improvements, and rapid prototyping to consequently enable innovation in new offerings. The impact of Industry 4.0 can be felt across the organization operates but how its ecosystem of customers, regulatory compliance, third-party experts, suppliers, etc. function and interact. It focuses on improvements that lead to enhancements to productivity, better risk reduction, incremental revenue growth, and generating new revenue sources.

Industry 4.0 also signals a shift in workforce dynamics and training needs

At the same time, Industry 4.0 means a significant shift in the manner in which employees in manufacturing work today and how they are expected to do so. The rise of automation and connected systems also signals workforce transformation. And this is where the manufacturers’ dilemma begins. Manufacturers not only have to lure tech-savvy talent but also have to reskill or upskill existing resources to harness the power of the new disruptive manufacturing technologies. A highly technologically advanced environment means more employee contributions revolving around technology, digital and intelligence roles. The isolated, optimized units need to together as completely integrated automated units with optimized production flows. These developments change the traditional production relationships.

Given the complete change in the manufacturing ecosystem, it becomes imperative to prepare the workforce and conduct strategic workforce planning.

  • For this, manufacturing companies have to look at hiring skilled resources for new job roles, adapting existing roles to the new methodologies, and upgrading IT skill of all resources.
  • Industry 4.0 also means a greater focus on compliance, regulatory and security aspects and demands all invested to be thoroughly updated on all new developments in these areas.
  • Since Industry 4.0 is a paradigm shift in itself, manufacturers have to ensure that all resources are suitably skilled to handle their new roles and responsibilities and are capable of managing the change in work patterns and in processes.

Training and development, thus, becomes a key area to concentrate on to enable this workforce evolution.

In the age of Industry 4.0, manufacturers need to prepare their entire workforce to harness the power of technology. This means frequent training and updated learning and development initiatives that address the pain points and learning gaps of the existing workforce. It also means accelerated onboarding and skill upgrades for the new hires to make them multi-skilled as with Industry 4.0.

The way ahead

In order to be prepared for this revolution, manufacturers have to ensure that all their resources are up to step to face the new order. Learning and development initiatives have to be more inclusive and take into consideration the varying needs of the resources. To achieve great training outcomes and to ensure that training costs are controlled, manufacturing companies need a new age training program…one that is complementary to the new age manufacturing unit.

Given the large resource pool that needs training, the diverse training needs of the workers, a large and often distributed workforce, manufacturing industries need a new training model that can proactively improve resource knowledge base. Training programs have to be more scalable, personalized, and flexible to adjust to the dynamic needs of Industry 4.0.

Taking a Blended Learning approach that combines classroom learning with eLearning emerges as a recipe for training success. With this approach, all awareness and knowledge sessions can be conducted leveraging eLearning while classroom training can be used for skill and expertise development.

Blended Learning takes the pain out of existing learning and development initiatives and gives manufacturing companies access to a huge knowledge repository, a talented resource pool of industry experts who can aid training, the flexibility to scale training programs in short time frame, and the ability to disseminate content in easily retainable bite-sized chunks in a device agnostic manner.

It is now clear that Industry 4.0 is going to be the silver bullet that helps manufacturers stay ahead of the curve in an increasingly competitive and complex market. However, in order to deliver on its promise, manufacturers have to make sure that they arm their workforce with the right tools to do their jobs better. And in this case, there is no tool that is greater than knowledge.

How manufacturing companies can address the employee onboarding challenge

Onboarding is the process of integrating and acculturating new employees into the organization and providing them with the tools, resources, and knowledge to become successful and productive.” – Booz Allen Hamilton in a report for the Partnership for Public Service

In the age of digital transformation and growing technology adoption to improve organizational efficiencies, employee onboarding cannot be treated as a stepchild. Onboarding processes are more than orientation programs that introduce new hires to their work surroundings. In the manufacturing sector, especially, given the vast scale of operations and hiring, robust employee onboarding processes become contributors to help them become experts fast and hit the ground running. It also helps in establishing the first threads of employee engagement, a factor that is critical to employee productivity. However, as more digital natives begin entering the workforce, manufacturing companies are being compelled to take a relook at their onboarding processes.

The challenges of employee onboarding in manufacturing

With the new age of manufacturing and the changing needs of new age manufacturing employees, it is important to acknowledge that the onboarding programs need to be personalized, relevant, comprehensive and should help in forging a strong connection with the employee.

The Millennial Workforce – With an increasing number of Generation Y-ers comprising the workforce, onboarding is the time to establish the company’s employment brand for better employee retention. Why? Simply because they and the Millennials want clarity on their career development path from Day-1. Robust onboarding processes drive employee engagement and help them become productive and engaged in innovation faster.

Unique Needs – The challenges of employee onboarding are unique in the manufacturing sector. You have a large workforce with varying degrees of knowledge. You have the blue collar worker who has certain special needs to look into. You have a workforce that is often distributed, located in off-site plans, and manufacturing sites while the main office is located elsewhere. Added to that is the rapid adoption of technology that is changing processes, and there are also rapidly evolving compliance norms to manage.

Logistical Challenges – Learning and Development and Training departments in manufacturing companies also have to take into consideration the vast number of employees who need onboarding at the same time. Considering that the hiring happens in large numbers collectively, it can be a huge challenge to provide optimized onboarding experiences to all of the new hires especially if we depend solely on classroom training. This not only becomes a resource complex initiative as you need to get the right trainers on board and also juggle the schedules of those attending the training. Additionally, there is the logistical challenge of getting the new hires from different locations to the training location. This can not only be a logistical nightmare but can also drive up training costs significantly.

So how can manufacturers address these growing employee challenges? Clearly, when it comes to employee onboarding, this industry cannot, and ideally should not, look at one mode of information communication. There has been a growing realization about the importance of valuing your workforce and creating a positive work culture. Having a strong onboarding process can help drive home this point – especially to establish the change that has come in the manufacturing sector with the use of automation, tools, robots and Industry 4.0.

The Solution

The solution to scale the employee onboarding challenges can be achieved by leveraging Blended Learning. Blended Learning employs a right combination of eLearning and classroom training programs to yield the best results. Onboarding for the people working in this industry is not just about familiarization but is also about coming up to speed in the shortest possible timeframe. A combination of eLearning and classroom training or practical exposure ensures that the onboarding process is comprehensive, relevant and personalized.

For example, for blue-collar workers, onboarding has to have agenda of making them productive on the shop floor. So, they have to be trained in working on machinery and heavy equipment. This part of the training can be done employing eLearning where videos, tutorials, simulations, and mobile can be leveraged to provide a working knowledge of how things work. This can be then supplemented with practical supervision to ensure proficiency.

Thorough process knowledge is essential for employees in manufacturing. However, with the rapid adoption of technology, there has been a sea of change and processes and workflows have undergone tectonic shifts. Complex processes, concepts, and workflows can be easily explained to the employees using eLearning. Tables, diagrams, simulations, animations, gamification, storytelling etc. are few things that can be easily used in the eLearning format to explain several complex process stages and provide a clear understanding of them. These avenues can also be leveraged to assess the level of mastery the employee has gained and determine the need for future training.

When it comes to the supervisor or manager, the onboarding experience can be customized further using the blended learning approach. eLearning can be used to demonstrate how things work and product usage, impart knowledge regarding processes and workflows, introduce them to the how and what of new technologies being implemented, train them on compliance and regulatory norms etc. With eLearning, organizations get the capability to not just manage the training but also measure the amount of knowledge gained. This ensures that by the time the onboarding process is complete there is a complete and organic knowledge transfer to the employee. This can be followed up with classroom and practical training on product or other shop floor operations to ensure that the team is competent to expertly perform in real-life work scenarios. This helps the employee become proactively productive.

Blended learning also gives the opportunity to optimize time spent in classroom training. Employees can first understand processes leveraging eLearning and then can undergo classroom training to achieve greater proficiency. This also helps training teams and individual departments utilize employee time better as employees are not away from their factory for extended periods.

It has been established that if you want your employees to be a part of your growth story you have to give them a good start. Established manufacturing companies such as Michelin, Arcelor Mittal and the like have gone on record to state that. In order to close the skills gap that is fast emerging in this sector, it, therefore, becomes inevitable to look at creating a positive impact from their first interaction with the company. It is imperative to have onboarding processes that help the employee get on-board as efficiently, quickly, thoroughly and as positively as possible. And this can be achieved easily using the Blended Learning approach.

Why classroom training alone can’t address all the challenges of manufacturing sector

An Industry Week Special Research Report titled ‘The Future of Manufacturing in 2020 and Beyond’ highlighted how changes in management priorities and technology adoption is enabling competitiveness in the manufacturing industry across the globe. This report specified that the manufacturing sector is overwhelmingly positive about their business growth prospects even in the face of rising material prices, market volatility, increasing labour costs, price reduction pressures etc.

The industry, however, has realised that in order to mitigate these challenges it has to identify ways to improve performance across a range of processes and capabilities. Be it strengthening customer relationships, using technology for improvements in processes and production or placing innovation as a strategic priority, to achieve the growth targets, manufacturing companies need to invest in areas that improve productivity and responsiveness.

Scaling the training needs of manufacturing today

A survey from Deloitte shows that while the manufacturing industry might be on an upward trajectory, there is a huge skills gap in this industry. This is due to the coinciding of baby boomer retirement with economic expansion, loss of embedded knowledge due to the retirement of experienced workers, and lack of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills amongst workers. The survey further shows that out of 67% of those surveyed, 56% anticipated worsening shortage over the next few years.

In order to close the skills gap, manufacturing companies have turned towards aggressive training and development initiatives.

Classroom Training needs an upgrade

With the coming of age of Industrie4.0, leading manufacturing companies such as Arcelor Mittal, Toyota, Permac Industries etc. have realised that focusing on training and development is the only way to build and retain a skilled production workforce.

With this sector, learning and development needs of the employees are usually addressed using classroom training. While this has worked in the past, in the face of rapid changes and widespread technological advancement and adoption, it doesn’t emerge as a viable alternative today for a variety of reasons, such as:

Large and distributed workforce

The manufacturing sector employs a large and distributed workforce with varying skill levels. Since the companies need multi-skilled workers, they need to assess the learning needs of each individual. Understanding new concepts, learning new skills and new principles and applications take time to learn. And time is a premium.

It can be a huge logistical challenge to get the employees from disparate locations to attend a training program or to even identify which employee needs to attend a training and who doesn’t. Classroom training also means downtime which can affect the company bottom line over a period of time.

High costs

The costs associated with classroom training are substantial. Apart from the man-hour requirements of the instructors, there is the cost of bringing in employees from different locations to the training location. Additionally, classroom training demands long and extensive trainer and supervisor involvement to ensure that the employees learn the desired skills. Classroom training for new hires can also be cumbersome and adds to training costs since new employees keep joining in new locations at any given time.


It becomes difficult to scale classroom training programs. Since the needs of the manufacturing sector keep changing, they need to ensure that the training programs have the capability to scale as well. For example, in the face of compliance and regulatory changes, coming up with a new classroom training programs is not only resource intensive but expensive as well. Bringing employees up to speed on changing laws, regulations etc. by creating new programs each time does not show economic value. Apart from this, taking a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to training defeats its purpose since not all employees have the same training needs.

Lack of skilled trainers

Classroom training also needs skilled and experienced trainers. In this industry, training types vary greatly. Training has to be conducted across jobs, divisions and cross divisions by subject matter experts. It has to be disseminated to address the needs of different types of people from different countries or regions, in different languages while ensuring the learning absorption takes place. Finding skilled trainers to meet all these requirements can be a challenge.

The solution is simple

For several types of training needs which are aimed at creating awareness and knowledge, eLearning emerges as a great solution. It can help manufacturing companies navigate the complexities presented by classroom training. It gives them the flexibility to train a wide workforce in specific skills at their own pace. eLearning helps in improving learner engagement by presenting the content in short, bite-zed nuggets in a device-agnostic manner and makes learning easier to consume and retain. It is also a cost-effective solution since it removes the element of employee downtime. Employees can access learning materials on the go, anywhere, anytime. Technology-aided learning programs can be scaled, updated, and disseminated with minimal time investment as well.

Obviously, only eLearning cannot be a solution for all types of training programs. The programs aimed at building skills and expertise or the programs which require hands-on training do need to rely on classroom training method where there is a closer interaction with the trainer. Adopting a Blended Learning approach, one that organically amalgamates classroom and online training, helps in developing a well-defined learning solution that helps in making learning not only proactive and easy but also continuous.

Manufacturers can dramatically improve their training ROI with this one thing

Category : Blended learning

The rising levels of complexity in the manufacturing sector as a response to rising economic complexity, globalization, technological innovation, constantly evolving business landscape, and ever-increasing consumer demands are seeing the sector becoming more innovative and demand-oriented. To respond to the challenges thrown up by these tectonic shifts, the manufacturing industry has had to pay close attention to their employee training and development needs.  After all, only a skilled and trained workforce can contribute productively towards an organization’s bottom line.

A report from American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) states that “Organizations that place a stronger emphasis on learning were also more likely to point to higher market performance, highlighting the bottom-line benefit. Conversely, reducing learning resources during tough economic times was associated with poor market performance“.

Training emerges as an effective solution to shore up the skills gap in the manufacturing sector. According to a study conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP, The Manufacturing Institute and Oracle, almost 32% of manufacturing companies face a moderate to heavy skill shortage across all skill sets. And as we see more advanced technology being incorporated in the manufacturing industry, these training needs of an organization be it for compliance, safety, product, good manufacturing practices etc. are only going to increase more.

Training in Manufacturing and Its Challenges

While this sector does recognize the importance of training initiatives, here are a couple of challenges plaguing the industry.

Growing skills gap

Given the skills gap that needs to be bridged and upskilling that needs to be done on a regular basis owing to the constantly shifting economic environment and the sheer number of people that need to be trained, training costs in such organizations can become very expensive. It has often been observed that while manufacturing companies need multi-skilled employees, most of the workforce is trained to complete a single job function alone.

New technology adoption

Technologies like robotics and automation become an industry mainstay but most workers in the manufacturing sector are not technologically proficient. Today, we are witnessing the rise of Industry 4.0 and technologies such as cloud computing and IoT are being adopted in the manufacturing sector at warp speed. However, along with focusing on new technology adoption, manufacturing companies have to be equally focused on training the people who will use these technologies – their workforce.

Classroom dependent training models

Traditionally, the manufacturing sector has been heavily inclined towards classroom teaching. Classroom training not only demands the heavy involvement of trainers and supervisors but also means employees to spend a considerable period of times attending these training programs. This also means downtime which impacts the company bottom line. Along with this are the logistical costs of bringing down employees from dispersed locations to the central training location which consequently adds to the training costs.

The attrition rates in the manufacturing sector are also high given that experienced employees are in high demand. This means new employees keep joining the companies in different locations. The training needs of these new hires have to be addressed on an immediate basis and organizations end up spending more to address the training needs of the new hires on a continuous basis, especially if these trainings are classroom driven.

Growing product portfolios

Manufacturing companies are also under constant pressure to innovate more and release new products or update and upgrade their existing products. This need demands that employees are on top of industry best practices and the changing market dynamics to become enablers of innovation. Those organizations that do not invest in regular trainings stand the risk of falling into the ‘frog in the well’ syndrome – you believe that your world is perfect while the world has moved on to another dimension altogether outside of the well. Regular training programs act as the fuel that helps employees identify how they can improve and innovate to create better products that can improve an organizations product value.

It becomes clear that employee training is a critical enabler of the overall growth of an organization. However, it is also clear that manufacturing companies are feeling the burn associated with classroom training –heavy expenses and employee downtime. While it might seem that training then has to become an either/or option, in reality, thanks to technology training programs have received the much-needed facelift…enter Blended Learning.

The benefits of blended learning in manufacturing

The objectives of training can be broken down into four major parts:

  • Awareness
  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Expertise

Blended learning can be used effectively to impart cost-effective and high-quality training in this sector. Blended learning offers to combine eLearning and classroom training to yield the best training results.

In the manufacturing sector, knowledge and awareness training are two areas that lend themselves well to eLearning. Whether it is employee onboarding, compliance, and regulatory training, product training etc. eLearning ensures that the employee training can be completed efficiently without leading to any employee downtime. These training modules also lend themselves to personalization, can be delivered in a device-agnostic manner, enable anywhere- anytime learning and reduce the overall training costs.

Skill and expertise building training are great models for classroom training as they need more one-on-one interactions. These training programs can also be conducted easily in the classroom format since these do not usually involve a large number of participants.

Amalgamating eLearning with classroom learning is an efficient way to improve the training RoI of manufacturing companies by enabling high-quality and cost-effective employee training programs.  By introducing eLearning, manufacturing companies will not only affect time-saving but will be able to improve the effectiveness of learning programs by making them more accessible, measurable, and personalized. With eLearning, it also becomes easier to monitor the effectiveness of the training programs as well as employee progress and tailor changes to address the growing knowledge needs of the employees proactively.

It is an established fact that the manufacturing industry has to lean in heavily on training their workforce in order to remain competitive. This shift has been made consciously in large manufacturing companies such as Arcelor Mittal and Toyota, for example. The main reason for these manufacturing giants to get serious about their training initiatives was to remain competitive and proactively bridge the yawning skills gap.

Clearly, manufacturing organizations have to look at workforce training as a strategic priority to not only bridge the skills gap but to ensure that their workforce performs to their optimal capacity. Only a well-trained workforce can fuel the organization’s ability to innovate and grow. And the solution for the same lies simply in Blended Learning.