Thriving in Tomorrow’s Factories:
The Crucial Role of Upskilling and Reskilling in Manufacturing
While the terms “upskill” and “reskill” are often used interchangeably, they carry distinct meanings.
Upskilling pertains to enhancing an employee’s existing skillset to help them excel in their current job. Conversely, reskilling involves instructing an employee in entirely new skills to facilitate a transition to a different role or position.
In 2020, The World Economic Forum predicted that by 2025, half of the workforce will require upskilling as more jobs are digitized. Workers will increasingly assume roles that demand critical thinking and problem-solving, while technical tasks will be delegated to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Additionally, the manufacturing industry is experiencing a shortage of skilled labor, necessitating upskilling and training to meet production capacity requirements.
Post Pandemic Manufacturing
The pandemic has underscored the necessity of embracing digital transformation, emphasizing the adoption of internet-connected and data-driven technologies across all aspects of production and supply chain connections.
Since 2021, technology has assumed an increasingly pivotal role in manufacturing, as companies strive for greater dynamism, efficiency, and resilience. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by artificial intelligence, robotics, and analytics, has unmistakably arrived, placing the responsibility on the post-pandemic workforce to leverage these transformative technologies effectively.
Simultaneously, it falls upon manufacturers to prepare their workforce. As production becomes more technologically advanced, a skills gap in manufacturing has emerged—a gap that cannot be adequately addressed through recruitment alone. To fully harness technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) or augmented reality, workers will need to enhance their existing skills and acquire new ones.
Here are some steps for effective reskilling and upskilling:
- Identify Skill Gaps: Begin by assessing the current skill levels of your workforce and identifying the skills that are lacking or in high demand.
- Set Clear Objectives: Define clear objectives and goals for the reskilling and upskilling program. Determine what specific skills need to be acquired and how they align with the company’s strategic goals.
- Create a Training Plan: Develop a comprehensive training plan that outlines the courses, programs, and resources needed to close the skill gaps. Consider both internal and external training options, such as workshops, online courses, certifications, and mentorship programs.
- Customize Training: Tailor the training to meet the specific needs of your workforce. Different employees may require different levels of training, so offer a variety of learning pathways and resources.
- Provide Accessible Learning: Ensure training materials and opportunities are easily accessible to all employees. Offer flexible learning options, including online courses and on-the-job training, to accommodate different learning styles and schedules.
- Engage and Motivate: Encourage employee participation and motivation by highlighting the benefits of acquiring new skills. Show how these skills can enhance job performance, job security, and career growth.
- Support Continuous Learning: Promote a culture of continuous learning within the organization. Encourage employees to take ownership of their development and regularly update their skills.
- Offer Financial Support: Consider providing financial incentives or support for employees pursuing further education or certifications related to their job roles. This can include tuition reimbursement or scholarships.
- Monitor Progress: Track employees’ progress as they undergo reskilling and upskilling. Regularly assess their performance and provide feedback to help them improve.
- Recognize Achievements: Celebrate the successful completion of training programs or the attainment of certifications. Recognize and reward employees who invest in their professional development.
- Evaluate and Adjust: Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of your reskilling and upskilling initiatives. Make adjustments to the training plan based on feedback and evolving industry needs.
- Measure ROI: Assess your reskilling and upskilling efforts’ return on investment (ROI). Evaluate whether the acquired skills contribute to increased productivity, innovation, and competitiveness.
- Promote Knowledge Sharing: Encourage employees to share their newly acquired knowledge and skills with their colleagues. This fosters a culture of collaboration and collective learning.
- Stay Informed: Keep abreast of industry trends and emerging technologies to ensure that your reskilling and upskilling programs remain relevant and up-to-date.
- Collaborate with Educational Partners: Collaborate with educational institutions, vocational training centers, and industry associations to access specialized training programs and resources.
- Seek External Expertise: If necessary, engage external experts or consultants to design and deliver specialized training programs that align with your organization’s needs.
- Promote Soft Skills: Don’t overlook the importance of developing soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, and adaptability, alongside technical skills.
- Monitor and Adapt to Technological Changes: Be prepared to continually adapt your training programs as new technologies and industry standards emerge.
By following these steps, organizations can effectively reskill and upskill their workforce to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the future of manufacturing.