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Concurrent Engineering Blog

6 key ideas to help overcome the industrial skills gap

Posted by Concurrent Engineering on 17-Apr-2020 09:15:00

As we enter a new decade, one of the key challenges for industrial firms is a growing shortage of workers and the ever-increasing skills gap.

A culture change and new learning methodology are needed to overcome these challenges.

Today, we’ll focus on the industrial skills gap with six key ideas that will help overcome this perennial problem.

1. Increasing technology literacy

When the World Manufacturing Forum published its 2019 report into critical workforce issues, technological skills were thrown into the spotlight.

By 2030, technological skills will represent the greatest increase in hourly work duties, according to the report. This means adopting digital solutions to aide innovation in training and education are vitally important strategies.

2.Delivering training via AR

Augmented reality (AR) is fast being used to deliver training more effectively.

It enables on-demand and in-context learning which improves skills development and knowledge retention. 

It’s fun, too, but crucially promotes ‘just-in-time’ learning which helps organise upskill teams quickly and cost-effectively.

3. Smart automation

Automation is already changing the way humans work, but it needs to be implemented smartly to help close the skills gap.

This means using automated processes to complement human work, create new tasks or substitute human input that simply isn’t required any more.


4. Adjusting the human/machine balance

It’s thought that 72% of factory tasks are still performed by humans, yet the repetitive and often strenuous nature of those tasks usually results in defects and errors.

To avoid the skills gap getting wider, manufacturers need to optimise the division of labour between human and machine. This means the advantages of both need to be identified and the effort placed where it’s most impactful (and accurate).

5. Focus on re-skilling and upskilling

The business incentives for re-skilling and upskilling employees are significant. Unfortunately, many training styles aren't right for the industry and come at a high cost.

Training based on empathy, judgement and listening will help workers develop their ‘human’ skills while automation takes on the more monotonous tasks.

Leaning on technology such as AR will help significantly in this area, particularly by giving an organisation’s experienced personnel the ability to lessen the skills gap by transferring their own knowledge.


6. Improving operational efficiencies

Digital transformation is being forced through by many businesses in a bid to close the skills gap. However, this strategy only works if operational efficiencies are improved, too.

For instance, Volvo Group are using a ‘people-first’ approach that equips workers with the right tools and knowledge to drive measurable improvements in productivity.

Summing up

Along with the strategies above, businesses need to empower workers with new technology and encourage knowledge transfer to increase key KPIs.

The skills gap will always exist in some form, but a collective approach from 2020 onwards will help to close it.