Ask any manufacturer (or any business segment for that matter) what their biggest problem is, and nine times out of ten the answer will be; “finding workers with the necessary skills.” The skills gap is a real problem, and those of us who have been in manufacturing a while have been talking about it for years. As the problem becomes more mainstream I am continually reading articles and hearing reports on how our government and education systems are addressing the problem. I don’t know about you, but the last time our government solved a problem quickly was…….and unfortunately, we all know the speed of change in our bureaucratic education system. So, what are WE as individuals and businesses doing to address the skills gap?
You get better:
There’s no question the speed and velocity of business has increased and will continue to increase year over year. If you don’t realize and embrace that concept first as an individual and then as an organization, I think there’s very little hope for your long term success. You need to create a paradigm of change, continuous change. First continuous change as individuals; what are you, as an individual person, doing TODAY to be better TOMORROW? If you get better, inherently your organization will get better. Pretty simple concept. You as a person needs to continually keep educating and renewing yourself, whether you’re an engineer, welder, manager, administrator, executive, accountant – whatever your role in the organization. How do you expect your company to advance and improve if you’re not advancing and improving? We live in an age of information, if you want to learn something there’s an almost endless amount of resources. There is simply no excuse for not getting better, other than not wanting to.
Help make someone else better:
When the topic of addressing the skills gap comes up, we immediately start talking about college and referencing the younger demographic. However, there are plenty of people in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and even 60’s with skills gaps too. We don’t always need a formal education system or strategic initiative in order to train and advance people. What do you currently know that someone within your organization doesn’t? How can you help them? What do you not know that would be helpful to you and your organization? Who knows that skill or has insight into knowing more about it? Seek that person out and ask them to help you. The resources are there!
Define what better looks like:
There’s nothing more frustrating than not knowing if you’re doing a good job or not. Or worse yet, thinking you’re doing a great job only to have your boss or someone tell you you’re not. It’s important as an organization to define and measure what matters so people know what issues they need to address and what skills they need to work on. Just bombarding people with information doesn’t address the problem. You need to define and measure what matters, and only what matters. Once the organization as a whole, then departments, then individuals define their key metrics, you can start creating alignment and improving as an organization.
We all have a circle of influence and have to work within that. You can’t sit back and wait for someone else to solve your problems. We are constantly working on increasing our skills and improving both as individuals and as an organization in order to build better tooling. We have established key metrics at an organizational level, departmental level, and individual level in order to establish and measure what matters most. We have to constantly be learning and improving, filling the skills gap has to be a continuous process in order to keep providing exceptional tooling and service well into the future.