Solving the Skilled Worker Shortage Problem Today

Oct. 11, 2010
Selection-Evaluation machines helped one manufacturero lower turnover rate by 60%.

While there is a global consensus that the long term solution to the skilled worker shortage is education, education, education, the real question is "who do I put in this position today to drive productivity in my facility?"

One company, Scientific Management Techniques, Inc . (SMT), is helping manufacturing companies answer that very question through the creation of Selection-Evaluation machines. These machines have saved manufacturers well over $1,000,000,000 since the company began operations in 1970. "When you consider the total cost of one bad hire the ROI of our solution is dramatic, lowering the risk and cost of hiring" explains Richard Whouley, founder of SMT.

The unique methodology identifies the strongest candidates and incumbents to drive efficiencies in the manufacturing setting. The efficacy of this process has been confirmed by dozens of validation studies conducted by Industrial & Organizational Psychologists.

At Cargill's facility in Wichita, Kansas their high turnover rate was impacting results and growing unsustainably. Using the "Mechanical" Selection-Evaluation solution to assess skill levels prior to employment allowed Cargill to identify and hire better qualified operators, lowering their turnover rate by 60%.

The Non-Written, Non-Verbal, Task-Oriented Selection-Evaluation process quantifies skills, capabilities, and instinct that traditional written aptitude tests are not designed for and can't identify. SMT manufactures three assessment machines that can be found in facilities globally; Mechanical, Electrical, and Programmable Logic Control tools that impact Lean/Six Sigma initiatives by increasing the skill level of the workforce. This process is agnostic regarding gender or language; a "Best Practice Solution" for hiring operators, mechanics, technicians and industrial electricians. The solution identifies skills such as: quality discrimination, hand-eye coordination, dexterity, spatial perception, problem-solving and judgment.

The company also provides basic and advanced in-plant training programs that use their machines as hands-on training tools to expedite the learning process.

At Unilever, Larry Gibson, America's Supply Chain Capabilities Director, has been using this process for many years. "I was introduced to the assessment methodology in the early 90's as a plant maintenance manager and used it as a very effective screening tool for hiring. In subsequent roles as plant manager I brought the tool in not only for hiring but also as a training tool for our TPM programs with great effect. Operators were able to see the interaction of cams, gears, drives and take this learning directly to improving their own maintenance and operation in my factories. We also had great success with the electrical testing module, again for both screening and training."

While all three machines quantify "Learned Skills" the "Mechanical" Selection-Evaluation tool also identifies "Instinct." The Mechanical test has been administered over 800,000 times in the last forty years. Given all this data SMT states that if they were to test 100 individuals that have never been exposed to a mechanical environment in their lives they would identify approximately 25% of these individuals as having strong innate mechanical competencies. These individuals are highly trainable, excellent candidates for entry level positions and apprentice programs.

The testing methodology is similar for all three Selection-Evaluation tools. A candidate is familiarized with the operation of the machine and given time to understand its operation, to learn how the system functions. The test administrator then introduces faults into the machine that interrupt its normal operation. The candidate is tasked with identifying the fault, repairing the fault, and returning the machine to fully operational status. Each test consists of 4 different faults introduced into the machine one at a time. The amount of time taken and method used to repair the faults generates a percentile score, from 0-99. The company provides different fault "Task Series" (different tests) with differing degrees of difficulty depending on what type of position the client is hiring for. For example, the Task Series used to hire for a maintenance mechanic position would be more difficult than that used to identify skills for a machine operator position.

The company began operations in 1970 with their Mechanical tool, the "Standard Timing Model" (STM). Initially the machine was used to identify the most skilled candidates for maintenance mechanic positions. Due to the effectiveness of the solution organizations started testing for a variety of positions where differing degrees of mechanical orientation are compulsory for productive employment. Based market demand the company developed and introduced the Electrical Skills Testing Device (ESTD) in 1990 and the Programmable Logic Control Testing Device (PLCTD) in 2005.

Organizations can purchase or rent the productivity tools and have SMT administer the testing or train an employee in the proper methodology. It's vital to have the testing conducted by a certified administrator to maintain the validity of the results. (see benchmarking data)With the initiation of efforts to introduce the solution to small & mid-sized manufacturers Whouley has developed pricing models to minimize the initial dollar commitment for this market segment. "The ROI of our solution is maximized by owning the machine and having an in-house test administrator" says Whouley, "We recognize that smaller organizations will want to minimize their capital outlay initially and have developed pricing that will deliver a compelling ROI for these clients."

Every organization wants the best people they can find operating and maintaining their facilities. Scientific Management Techniques is the sole vendor of this unique assessment methodology to identify and quantify skills and competencies prior to hire.

Steve Berry is VP Sales & Marketing, Scientific Management Techniques Inc.. SMT is located in Londonderry, N.H. Their Selection-Evaluation machines can be found in manufacturing facilities globally.

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