Insufficiently skilled workers in the manufacturing industry leads to disastrous consequences. The industry is struggling to fulfil millions of vacant job roles, and a widening skills gap means as many as 2 million positions could remain empty by 2025. Manufacturing has an immediate need for educated and creative workers, yet acquisition is difficult in a sector known for having a steep learning curve that leaves employees unprepared.
It’s a time of uncertainty. 81% of 6,000 manufacturers polled by the British Chamber of Commerce reported difficulty in recruiting skilled staff recently. Companies are under pressure to upskill and train their employees to ready them for an increasingly digitised sector, while trying to retain what talent they've got.
Training is difficult in any industry, but in manufacturing it is the difference between life and death should something go wrong. But, the industry is plagued with challenges that mean training manufacturing workers isn’t as simple as it should be, leaving businesses in danger of non-compliance.
Knowing the biggest hurdles for training in manufacturing can give your business an advantage when hiring.
The Biggest Challenges Facing Manufacturing Training
The Skills Gap
The manufacturing industry is ripe with jobs and yet, positions are going unfilled. This widespread problem is hitting the global manufacturing landscape hard. The industry is embracing change, from artificial intelligence (AI) to robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT). This emerging technology is transforming the workplace – but is also creating a void of workers missing the necessary skills.
There is a disconnect between technological advancement in the workplace and the knowledge being taught in education. Many workers, particularly those that have been in the industry for some time, are likely to be trained for a single job function. As the manufacturing sector is changing, so too are its requirements and employers want multi-skilled individuals.
Analysts long feared that automation would mean the death of manual labour, but the opposite is happening. More jobs are being created, but the workers don’t have the skills to meet them. To combat the skills gap, manufacturing training needs to be reimagined. Manufacturers need to retrain their workforce to accommodate new technology, while also reinventing the way they work to better accommodate humans. This allows workers to use their ‘soft skills’ more – skills that automation can’t utilise.
High Training Costs
Training in the manufacturing industry can be very expensive. Manufacturing requires specialist skills that can’t be taught through online courses or eLearning programmes, needing the involvement of skilled trainers to ensure a safe working environment.
Instructor-led training (ILT) is expensive but often necessary to teach employees the processes they need, and it’s costly bringing people from different locations together to train. In fact, there’s a variety of issues that bring up the cost of physical training:
Because of the scope of the training required, cost is one of the biggest challenges of manufacturing training. Physical, on-site training doesn’t just hurt financially however – productivity is slowed when everyone is gathered for hours to train. Manufacturing training isn’t fast and needs to be thorough to ensure compliance, yet lost hours are detrimental to a business.
Retaining Talent and Employee Turnover
Keeping the talent you have is just as important as hiring new employees. Retaining skilled workers is crucial to avoid repeating the lengthy, expensive training process and prevent productivity from stalling.
Preventing employee turnover starts as early as the hiring process. Engage your newest hires with a constructive onboarding process. This involves a clear explanation of the job role and the working environment, including health and safety matters and what’s expected of the employee. By identifying what your business is looking for in a potential candidate, you can tailor training for those that require it.
Be prepared to develop your talent as it grows. Providing a roadmap of future safety training along with resources is key to investing your employees in their workplace safety. Specific training programmes for factory workers are helpful for those manufacturing workers in particularly hazardous environments.
Manufacturing Goes Digital
Manual jobs are becoming increasingly automated as technology continues to impact the working environment. There’s still a place for a human worker in manufacturing, but training needs to be administered correctly.
Preparing workers for smart factories and digital supply chains is crucial to ensuring they’re able to keep up with the digitisation of the industry. Smart factories will see manufacturing operations management software (MOM) integrated with organisational data to unite production, resources, supply chain, maintenance, and human resources into one area.
There’s pressure for manufacturing companies to stay one step ahead. Training the workforce in digital skills will help them complement software specialists hired into the industry. Make sure your safety and training resources are easily accessible for your workforce, for example, stored on an online health and safety portal.
Remaining Aware of Compliance Changes
Health and safety compliance is often a challenge for manufacturing training. The regulations that govern best practice are regularly updated and there are many procedures, processes, and laws that need to be adhered to. As a result, compliance training is often one of the focal points of manufacturing training.
When best practice isn’t communicated effectively, it’s hard to follow. And, non-compliance with health and safety laws leads to severe repercussions – for the worker, should they suffer an accident, but also for the company as well. Making sure your workforce not only understands and follows health and safety regulations, but is aware of updates made to them, is a major challenge for the manufacturing industry.
To overcome this hurdle, organisations need to communicate health and safety best practice down to their employees and foster a culture of awareness by integrating it into the business.
The Impact of Poor Training
It might seem like there are a lot of challenges to overcome when attempting to train people in the manufacturing industry, but the advantages of having a well-trained workforce far outweigh the negatives.
Health and safety compliant employees will lead to a more productive working environment, and one that is less exposed to risk. If an accident does occur, your workforce will be better equipped with the knowledge and skills to deal with it. However, the impact of poor training in the manufacturing sector can be serious – or even fatal.
A lack of comprehensive training can lead to an unsafe working environment. Manufacturing employees that don’t know how to use their equipment and supplies properly are a hazard, especially in workplaces that include heavy duty machinery. As an employer with a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of your employees, your business could suffer legal action as a result of substandard training.
Poorly-trained employees are less likely to perform their job role with competence. This results in a lack of productivity and increased stress. This can have a knock-on effect, potentially causing them to look elsewhere for a job.
How Safetybank Can Help
Proper planning is essential to training new employees. Ensuring you cover everything necessary will result in employees that are better suited to carrying out their jobs safely, and employees that are more satisfied in their role.
Normally there can be great difficulties when attempting to organise and manage training. However, Safetybank’s all-in-one software solution helps keep everything in one place. By providing a centralised online system for documentation, Safetybank makes it easy to track training information and compliance.
Safetybank can assist with overcoming some of these challenges and make the task of manufacturing training easier. Book a demo of the software today to learn more.