Pursuing Lifelong Employability in the Manufacturing Business

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By Georgia Ingle, freelance writer.

According to data on small manufacturing businesses from Novuna Business Finance, these enterprises are more likely to experience growth in the next three months (from May) compared to other business sectors. Despite being the most affected by the pandemic, small businesses have survived thanks to agility and reinvention, as they repurposed their capabilities during lockdown.

Indeed, small businesses are a critical piece in our economy and local communities. However, they — and larger enterprises — strongly rely on skilled employees to drive growth. With the challenges ushered by the pandemic, as well as the shift to automation and digital operations, a survey from the UK government revealed that as many as 80% of manufacturing employees have a desire to upskill in 2022. This reflects a universal need to have future-ready, transferable skills for your entire working life. Moreover, empowering employees towards self-development can benefit your businesses in many ways. Here are tips on how to help manufacturing employees grow:

Invest in your employees

It’s true that expectations and demands are rapidly changing in modern workforces, but this doesn’t mean you have to continually hire new employees when you can just as easily retrain your current staff. To echo the insights on continuous learning from LHH, you don’t want to waste the knowledge, relationships, and potential you’ve cultivated in your team. Instead of looking outward, place value on your employees and leverage their talents so they can grow alongside your business. Identify skill gaps and provide opportunities for learning or training in a different aspect of your business. An employee who can operate all machines and perform all operations can greatly reduce your lead times. This is because you can ask them to switch tasks at a moment’s notice. Encourage employees to stay abreast of career-relevant economic and technological shifts by reframing this training as a way to stay employable for as long as they want to be part of the workforce.

Develop a skills map

Few things remain untouched by automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, so it’s important to ensure no one gets left behind in this shift. To close your skills gap, you will need to have a guide on where you want to go. What are the relevant manufacturing skills now, and what will they be ten years down the road? By proactively identifying these future skills and preparing your workers now with a well-planned learning programme, you can build competencies amongst your employees. Another tip is to pair older staff members with younger ones, as a kind of “digital ambassador.” Younger employees are digital natives, so they see and think about things differently. They will be better equipped to help older teammates through this skills map and appreciate the practicalities of technology.

Provide constructive feedback

study on feedback from the American Psychological Association points out that people consistently underestimate others’ desire for constructive feedback, and therefore don’t provide it. We all want to develop and improve, but without feedback, this is impossible to achieve. If you’re trying to teach someone something new, you should inform them about their progress; this is especially true if you have apprentices who are still learning the ropes. Feedback can also make onboarding easier for those who are reluctant to leave their comfort zones. You can spend as much money as you want on new technologies, but most people would prefer to work in the “old way.” You can say something like: “I think you’re doing a good job as it is, but you would be much faster and more efficient if you learn to use that tool.” Workers want to know that they’re making a difference, so you should balance feedback with appreciation as well.

In today's modern work landscape many business are seeing high turnovers of staff. The above tips show why manufacturing companies need to invest in lifelong employability in order to remain competitive and foster a strong company culture.

Author Bio:

Georgia Ingle is a freelance writer and a passionate supporter of homegrown businesses. Aside from being a dedicated researcher and editor, Georgia greatly enjoys doing crafts like knitting.

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