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Using eAssessment To Bridge the Skills Gap with Targeted Training

The robots are coming.

Sounds like a tag line from an old sci-fi movie, doesn’t it? Fifty years ago, that statement might have struck fear into the heart of those waiting for an imminent attack by chrome-plated, voice-modulated humanoid machines.

Thankfully, the far-fetched plots of those old sci-fi movies didn’t come to pass. Nevertheless, the specter of a robot invasion did eventually begin to strike fear into the hearts of factory workers. Instead of a military-style raid, however, workers began to worry about an uncertain future in which robots would come and replace them on assembly lines.

Fast forward to today, and the robots are here. Indeed, they’re everywhere. In advanced manufacturing facilities around the world, robots perform a wide variety of tasks in all sorts of industries.

The Skills Gap

Although advanced technologies, like robots, have replaced some low-skill jobs, they’ve also created new opportunities for highly-skilled workers. The problem is that there aren’t enough qualified, highly-skilled workers for those new advanced manufacturing careers. This problem is what those in manufacturing refer to as the “skills gap.”

According to recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), there are approximately 488,000 open manufacturing jobs in the United States and that figure is projected to rise in the coming months and years.

And manufacturers are well-aware of this growing problem. The National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) most recent Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey revealed that 73 percent of manufacturers identify the skills gap as their top concern when looking toward an otherwise-bright future.

Bridging the Skills Gap

An important factor in bridging the skills gap that might be unclear to outsiders is that the solution cannot solely focus on properly educating a new generation of advanced manufacturing workers. The solution must also address current workers who need to upgrade their skills to adapt to the changing landscape of Industry 4.0 and continuous improvement philosophies adopted by many modern manufacturers.

How do manufacturers go about addressing skill gaps that become evident when implementing new technologies? The answer is obvious: training.

However, the obvious answer isn’t necessarily an easy solution. In fact, it raises a number of questions. What kind of training? Who should receive the training? What impact will training have on production, both now (downtime) and the future (improved productivity and efficiency)? How can a manufacturer ensure training is economical, efficient, and effective?

One Size Does NOT Fit All

Unfortunately, many manufacturers invest in training programs without answering these critical questions beforehand. The result, too often, is a one-size-fits-all training program that ultimately wastes time and money by trying to solve a high-tech problem with a low-tech solution.

Like the tall individual trying on the complimentary robe in an upscale hotel room, manufacturers quickly realize that one size definitely does not fit all. A training room filled with 20 workers will likely contain individuals with 20 different skill sets.

Some workers may benefit from all aspects of the training program, while other workers may be bored to tears because they’ve already mastered some of the skills being taught.

The result is a mixed bag of wasted time and money (the highly-skilled worker who was off the production floor for hours unnecessarily) combined with the hope of some gains in productivity and efficiency (the workers who did gain some knowledge and skills that they’ll hopefully be able to apply in their daily work).

eAssessment to the Rescue

If only there was a way to hand-tailor a training program to the individual needs of workers based upon their skill sets, then wasted time could be kept to a minimum while effective training is directed to those who need it most. Fortunately, there is a high-tech solution to this high-tech problem: eAssessment.

Developed by curriculum experts in a variety of industries, Amatrol’s eAssessment allows manufacturers to assess the skill sets of individual workers in specific areas. They’re easy to use and feature powerful reporting capabilities that clearly identify the gaps in skills that need to be addressed by targeted training.

Manufacturers who use Amatrol’s eAssessment can confidently direct workers to the specific types of training they need. Based on each individual worker’s skill gaps, targeted training can be accelerated because it focuses on only the skills needed, resulting in less time away from the job.

For example, instead of requiring a worker to sit through a long training session that covers a broad range of basic electrical concepts, a worker already familiar with DC electricity concepts could be directed to eLearning modules limited to AC electricity if eAssessment reveals that’s where a gap exists in the worker’s skills.

Targeted Training Yields Results

Eliminating unnecessary and overlapping training in this way reduces wasted time and money and improves efficiency. eAssessment also allows manufacturers to ensure that training is effective by documenting skill levels both before and after training. The result is a targeted, efficient, effective training program that will benefit both workers and the bottom line.

As manufacturers search for ways to bridge the skills gap created by Industry 4.0 and continuous improvement philosophies, eAssessment can help them target necessary training to individual workers while eliminating wasted time and money. Amatrol offers eAssessment in a variety of areas, including automation, electrical, fluid power, green energy, industry fundamentals, lean manufacturing, machining, manufacturing processes, materials, measurement and gauging, mechanical, prints and drawings, process control, quality, safety, structural engineering, surveying, thermal, and workplace effectiveness.

About Duane Bolin

Duane Bolin is a former curriculum developer and education specialist. He is currently a Marketing Content Developer for Amatrol, Inc. Learn more about Amatrol and its technical training solutions, including eLearning, here and connect with Duane on Amatrol’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube pages.

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