Impact Dakota Blog is a blog dedicated to supporting North Dakota’s manufacturing community improve People, Purpose, Processes and Performance. Entries provide information on opportunities, new ideas, quick tips, celebrations of success, and well, frankly, anything to help you become a better manufacturer.
There aren’t enough workers to meet U.S. manufacturers’ needs. A 2021 survey by the National Association of Manufacturers found that 80% of companies say their top challenge is the inability to attract and retain a quality workforce. The situation will worsen as baby boomers continue to retire. Adding to the challenge, the “great resignation” has resulted in people looking for more flexible and rewarding work. According to Deloitte, there could be 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2030. A new infographic, Training: Responding to the Skills Gap, describes both common workforce challenges for small and medium-sized manufacturers and possible solutions.
You’ve probably heard the buzz around the German apprenticeship system – but does it really live up to the hype? That’s what a recent mission of 16 workforce professionals from around the United States set out to learn. One of our goals was to educate our peers across the U.S. about what we learned in Germany. Here are five valuable lessons that we took away from the trip.
Creating a company culture that encourages new ideas and being willing to consider better ways of doing things are key to getting out of a risk-averse mode. Continuous improvement starts with this mindset of openness but takes it further. Continuous improvement depends on a methodology whereby activities become routines that can be measured and reviewed. A lean management road map can help your company become more proactive and resilient. The plan follows a typical lean journey using five areas.
Outside of the racetrack, could the NASCAR pit stop be the answer to exciting young people about manufacturing? Could you use lessons from NASCAR to improve your company’s teamwork? Racing can inspire us to see how manufacturing is truly a work of art, remind us that from large parts to small, manufacturing powers racing – and our lives and see how racing teams are the future of our workplace. If you want your company to be lightning quick and capture your own spot on the manufacturing podium, consider the value of integrated teams. And if you’re an educator working to inspire young people, consider using the racing experience as a way to excite students about the possibilities of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.
The manufacturing industry continues to be at high cyber risk as a result of global competition and geopolitical tensions. Companies up and down the supply chain are demanding more transparency into their customers’ and suppliers’ reliability in order to mitigate risks from disruptions. Some are starting to require cybersecurity assurances, a trend that will only gain momentum. Enforcing cybersecurity standards will ultimately protect U.S. innovation and competitiveness. Learn how manufacturers can be proactive in their preparedness.
In the current job market, people have many options, and that does not change when you hire them. New hires want to feel welcome. They want to understand what they are being asked to do and why. They want to be a part of something bigger than a specific task. If you are struggling to retain new employees beyond the first day, week or even 90 days, it might not be about them. It may be time to look at your onboarding process. Learn more about what makes for a successful onboarding experience.
November 8 was STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Appreciation Day – subjects that we believe should be emphasized year round. This spotlight on STEM education has reignited an interest in technology-based toys. While there were always chemistry and Erector sets, in my day the most common way kids imagined a technological future was with Transformers and Star Wars’ figures. Now, there are thousands of computer programming, 3D printing and other child-appropriate kits available to make learning about STEM fun, something that will be essential if we are to excite the next generation about a future in STEM-heavy careers such as manufacturing. Here are a few ideas for encouraging interest in STEM for the children on your holiday gift list.
Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) provides students, parents and communities a glimpse of modern manufacturing. It’s held on the first Friday of October and has grown exponentially to being recognized during the entire month of October with manufacturing companies, schools and organizations planning activities to create awareness around manufacturing. While October may be over, the spirit of MFG Day continues in northern Pennsylvania with collaborative community efforts known as student-run manufacturing enterprises. Northwest Industrial Resource Center (NWIRC), one of the Centers that make up the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Extension Partnership, is helping launch student-run enterprises throughout northwest and north-central Pennsylvania. These enterprises are connecting industry with high schools and career and technical centers for very real and purposeful work, enabling students to develop relationships with manufacturing leaders, and in some cases addressing capacity issues for these local companies.
We all love the “easy” button. We’ve gotten used to convenience and simplicity when it comes to solving problems. Which is why solving the manufacturing workforce crisis has been so hard: No same-day delivery, e-commerce platform, or ridesharing app alone can help us recruit and retain the two million manufacturing workers we need. Long-term fixes require systemic changes. You can’t buy a better workforce online; instead, you have to cultivate it from the inside with meaningful, effective long-term interventions.