Companies are playing a waiting game. The frustration that manufacturers have experienced over the past few years at not being able to find people with the correct skills to work in their plants has now grown into pain, explains Stephen Berry, president, Scientific Management Techniques Inc.
"While companies are tempted to fill positions on a short term basis the real problem is that a bad hire can dramatically impact productivity on the floor. That's why many manufacturers are now waiting to fill positions until they find the correct person," Berry says.
One measurement companies are using to determine an employee's success on the job is Scientific Management Techniques' assessment machines. The companys non-verbal, non-written, task-oriented methodology covers four skill areas: mechanical, electrical, PLC and CNC.
Some of our global consumer nondurable manufacturing companies have been raising the bar and will only hire employees who score on the high end of our assessments. While they might incur some costs in the short run they feel it's money well spent, Berry said.
One of the benefits of these tests is that it can measure innate ability. Berry points out that after 40 years of data his company has discovered that 20% of the people taking the tests have natural instincts in these areas and they can be quickly trained.
"Identifying and quantifying skills prior to hire is the single most effective means to insure a quality, highly productive hiring decision in manufacturing," adds Berry.
The industry seems to agree with him since earlier this month the company, which launched its first machine in 1970, reached a milestone of having administered 900,000 assessments.
Internal company success is broadening out to the community. "The companies we work with have approached their local educational resources such as community colleges to provide the same training.," Berry explains.Currently 17 community colleges are using the program which consists of 77 units which provide over 250 hours of training. And it can be customized to address the skills necessary for area companies who are hiring.
The educational community can also tap a financial resource, the Workforce Investment Act, as manufacturing qualifies for funding.
Another training tool that has been used successfully globally is apprentice programs. Currently Scientific Management Techniques operates two apprentice feeder programs. These particular programs, based in Massachusettes and Florida, are focusing on high skilled maintenance mechanics whereby the company is "growing" people internally using the mechanical skills assessment tool and training program.
The two-step program first tests the employee's interested in advancement. Those that score the best are placed into a 32-hour basic mechanical principals course. Next a more difficult mechanical skills assessment test is provided and those employees receive 160 hours of advanced training. Part of this course uses machinery in the plant for training. Upon completion the individuals will be prepared to work as maintenance mechanics in an automated production facility.
"This training creates a pipeline of talent for the company. When positions become available plant management already has a stable of confirmed talent to move up the ladder," says Berry.
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