Category Archives: Skill gaps

Top training challenges of the manufacturing industry

Are Indian manufacturing companies ready to embrace the fourth industrial revolution aka Industry 4.0? One would say absolutely yes, right? The industry is ripe for new technology adoption, India is a fast-growing technology hub, and there is tremendous support from the government. But with this revolution comes the need for new types of training programs – training programs that can equip the workforce to work in the new environment.

A business is comprised of the people who work to make it function, and if the people lack the know-how to apply the latest in innovation and technology, it directly affects production and as a result, turnover and business. So what are the difficulties and barriers faced by manufacturing companies when it comes to training their employees? Let’s explore that –

Widening skill gaps

The Top Captain of Deloitte, Touche Tohmatsu, says, “India doesn’t have a labour shortage, it has a skilled labour shortage“.

India is the world’s second most populated country that has brought forth a number of issues – one of them is the challenges with Indian labour. One of the main problems to be addressed in a country with an ever-growing population is that an influx of new jobs must be created. In an attempt to avert a large-scale unemployment crisis, the government launched the “Make In India” initiative to encourage and foster local manufacturing and create new job opportunities. However, what is happening is that the sudden burst of jobs and investment are not in synch with the skill level of the Indian workforce, and a lot of efforts must be taken to upskill millions of workers. An India-based employability assessment firm, Aspiring Minds, stated that more than 80% of engineers in India are unemployable. Since there are not too many specialized courses, and since employees cannot be expected to pick up the skills themselves, manufacturing companies, who hire a lot of fresh graduates, need to take the responsibility of training the Graduate Engineering Trainees (GETs).

High costs of training

History has taught us that Indian organisations have always been hesitant in indulging in long-term investments such as R&D or training. Add to this the high employee turnover of around 20% across industries, and there are extremely high training investments that must be endured by employers. Traditionally, manufacturing companies have relied on classroom trainings which are very time-consuming and costly. Especially in a manufacturing set up, where people work from different locations, training costs involve the costs of travel, stay, and not to mention, the factory downtime during the training time. This is why training within the business becomes an added cost and a high one at that.

The proliferation of new technologies

From additive manufacturing machines to IoT applications which optimize production, advancements and innovation in the Indian manufacturing sector are growing by leaps and bounds, and the current education systems in India are far from ready to keep pace with the ever-growing advancements in technology. The emergence of the smart factory aims at making the manufacturing process smarter through technologies such as automation, IoT, advanced planning and scheduling systems, connected machines, real-time and predictive analysis to name a few. These trends are extremely recent and most of the Indian workforce is not fully ready to embrace any of these innovations. This means that the manufacturers need to invest in training programs which can train their workforce on these new skills and roles.

Wide product and service portfolio

When a workforce isn’t ready, a broad product portfolio could spell out doomsday for a business. Most manufacturing companies have a wide range of products, and keeping up to the individual needs and requirements of said products poses as an upward challenge. A wide product portfolio equates to complexity in terms of manufacturing, sourcing raw materials, managing assembly, and sales and marketing – this can be an uphill task if one is not prepared. That being said, it is possible and even lucrative to have a wide product portfolio, the only prerequisite must be that your workforce should be trained and ready to take on these complex challenges.

Different training needs at different levels

From training graduate engineering trainees to training blue collared workers, addressing the needs of multiple levels becomes a herculean task. And it’s not just innovation, skillsets and technology that need to be addressed, training must also be imparted from a compliance standpoint. A large workforce needs to be trained on topics like safety and compliance apart from the technical know-how. The training needs at each level are fundamentally different from the other and applying the same training approach to train the entire workforce can prove to be extremely ineffective. For example, one category of the workforce might just need preliminary introduction training on a subject while another category might need a more in-depth, hands-on training on the same topic. In such cases, eLearning might be a good option for the introductory training but the in-depth training will need a combination of eLearning and classroom training along with on-going mentorship.

Strict compliance and regulations

One of the most important and overlooked aspects of manufacturing is to be complaint. Compliance includes keeping employees up to speed with the latest on laws, regulations, procedures, quality checks and more. The government keeps tweaking and revising these norms and it is up to the company to make sure that the knowledge transfer happens. Keeping up with these laws by itself can be burdensome and time-consuming.

Expertise of the training partner

In order to deliver proper training and a learning experience that sticks, the training solution must be well designed and delivered considering the specific needs of the industry. Only the subject matter experts who have worked in the industry can understand the nuances of the manufacturing operations and their training needs. It is, therefore, extremely important for manufacturing companies to select a training partner who has subject matter expertise. The training partner must have a unique blend of technical know-how, industry experience, academic experience, and experience in educating. A culmination of these skills results in an immersive learning experience.

The trouble with training providers of today is that they tend to segregate and silo ‘classroom’ and ‘eLearning’, when the best learning solutions consist of a blend of these two. It’s important to remember that learning in adulthood is far more challenging, and one must make the material interesting in order to impart learning that’s long-lasting. Traditional training formats can get boring and hence, difficult for the learner to understand. However, when you introduce formats such as video-based content, interactivity, and micro-nuggets of information that are easy to consume, the learning process itself becomes a joy for the learner.

While there are several challenges faced with regard to training in the manufacturing industry in India, there are solutions as well. At Enggenious, we help manufacturing companies grow their business by enabling them to successfully navigate through their training requirements without a hitch. Our training solutions make learning accessible, inexpensive, and effective so that businesses can thrive, irrespective of the changing landscapes in the industry.

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.