No Such Thing as “Spare Time” – 5 Ways to Fit in More Training

The growing skills gap is a familiar story to most manufacturers, but as they look ahead, they’re not expecting things to get easier. In fact, a 2021 survey by The Manufacturing Institute found that more than three-quarters of manufacturers expect that production workers will be the hardest to find in 2021 and beyond. That’s why it’s more critical than ever to make training a central part of your company’s mission.

The value of training is clear. One study by IBM found that companies with well-trained teams were 10% more productive than their competitors – and saved $70,000 a year in the process. That’s why nearly 80% of manufacturers are increasing their training activities – and 70% have invested in internal training programs to develop the talent they need. But balancing that training with all of the other work that goes into a successful shop is tough.

Luckily, with planned maintenance, new equipment installation, automation integration, customer visits and other regular interruptions, even the world’s most optimized and successful facilities find themselves slowing down to take care of necessary business. Take advantage of this downtime to keep operators, engineers and managers engaged with continuing education. Here are five simple ways to fit in more training:

  1. WATCH AND LEARN. Training doesn’t have to be complicated when the vast majority of manufacturing professionals carry an always-online computer in their pockets most of the time. Simply sharing good content found on YouTube or Instagram can be a good way to keep your team engaged. Video case studies from channels like NYC CNC or footage from recent major expos like IMTS can provide hours of training material – and encourage team members to start searching out and sharing informative and interesting manufacturing content themselves.
  1. TAKE STOCK OF YOUR INDUSTRY. Of course, the manufacturing industry had dedicated coverage long before social media or streaming video began taking over, and many of those magazines, academic journals and other publications are still in print or available digitally. Engineers and product designers should naturally be keeping up with the latest developments in their area of expertise, but everyone in your shop should be encouraged to do a bit of extra reading. In between the ads, both operators and managers alike will usually find something useful they can apply to their everyday work.
  1. CHECK OUT THE COMPETITION. Studying your industry sector or machining technology in general can be helpful, but your team also needs to study your competition. This is especially true for managers and executives, who require a complete understanding of the competitive landscape to make good strategic decisions. Sign up for their mailing lists, read their websites and make sure you know exactly why customers are choosing their business over yours.
  1. GET CERTIFIED. Certification programs vary widely in quality – many are just an expensive way to add a bullet point to your website. Others, such as ISO certification, require a lot of paperwork that can be done in between tasks, but when they’re finished, it’s a mark of distinction and quality. Having an operator certified in a new advanced machining strategy or a new piece of software may only require attending a few short online courses, but the additional capabilities that certification represents for your shop can be every bit as impactful as a new machine.
  1. FIND A PARTNER. It can be hard to fit training into a busy production schedule, but finding time to design and implement a training program in the first place isn’t easy either. After all, manufacturers specialize in making parts, not education. Due to this, the easiest way to start building training into your shop’s workflow is to find an effective partner. Local educational institutions, professional associations and suppliers like Seco have only become more accessible in recent years, and there are online training opportunities that can fit into nearly any shop’s schedule.

From free videos or industry forecasts to formal education programs or supplier-provided training, it’s easier than ever to maintain a skilled workforce – and keep your shop prepared to take full advantage of every business opportunity. It turns out that, in manufacturing, there’s no such thing as “spare time” if you have the right mindset.

Find out more about how Seco Manufacturing Transformation can help you meet your training goals here.

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