Focusing on Workers’ Skills Instead of Credentials
The reality is that through the ups and downs of the manufacturing business cycle, it has become increasingly difficult to fill good-paying jobs due to a lack of qualified candidates.
The goal of all education is to provide students with a solid foundation to obtain a decent job, start a career, and thrive. But what happens when that training does not meet the needs of its business community such as the manufacturing industry? A gap is created, and it only gets wider as time goes on. We can begin to close this gap by examining what needs to be done to best prepare manufacturing students for the workforce. The insufficient number of qualified education programs is another factor that threatens to make the labor shortage worse as teenagers are forced to look at other areas as careers. Fewer production lines need physical labor while more manufacturers require people who can work on automated machinery.
When we think of what someone is about to study in school, we think about curriculum. We look at a list of course titles, and if the courses sound like it is what we need, we nod approvingly. But should the goal be to study mechanical systems, or should it be to acquire the skills to align and tension a chain drive or to specify a gearbox correctly? By focusing on skills rather than curricula, one can readily adapt programs to career pathways and provide a result that is more acceptable to students and employers.
Let's consider what needs to be done to achieve an outcome that is favorable for educators and manufacturers. By focusing education on individual skills to meet certain manufacturing workforce objectives, students will be better prepared to take over the aging demographics of the current workforce and work within the latest technology and machinery.