The rate of rapid changes in manufacturing technologies is pointing to a future where major manufacturing technology refresh will occur every five to ten years. This means that a worker will need to face the challenge of skill obsolescence multiple times in a typical career. Overcoming this challenge using the current workforce education and training paradigm is not practical. Not finding a scalable solution to this challenge will lead to a major disruption to the way of life for the middle class.
Over the last few years, I have interacted with workers, companies, and colleges and discussed challenges and opportunities in the manufacturing workforce training area. Based on my analysis, the main challenges are the following:
- Acquiring new manufacturing skills often requires six months or more. Displaced workers are economically vulnerable and simply do not have cash reserves to complete the training.
- Many displaced workers do not have math and programing prerequisites to learn advanced manufacturing technologies. Completing these prerequisites takes extra time.
- Many advanced manufacturing technologies are expensive. Colleges and training institutes are unable to acquire them in sufficient quantities to rapidly build the capacity needed to retrain the workforce.
- Workers are unable to travel to far away training locations for long periods of times to complete the training due to family constraints and/or economic considerations.
- Enable trainees to participate in training remotely.
- Accelerate the training process.
- Reduce time needed to complete prerequisites.
- Leverage spare capacity on existing machines to reduce capital investments.