Developing the Workforce for Smart Manufacturing

Jeannine Kunz, Chief Workforce Development Officer at SME

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For decades, the nonprofit organization SME has been dedicated to the advancement of manufacturing in two critical areas: technology and people. In this episode, we sat down with Jeannine Kunz, longtime SME team member and newly-appointed Chief Workforce Development Officer to discuss the second area: people.

In this era of smart manufacturing, there's a huge people problem - manufacturing as an industry doesn't have the skilled workforce it needs to make the digital transformation to Industry 4.0. Jeannine's work seeks to understand the complexity of challenges around the workforce issue, and then bring together stakeholders to solve those challenges.

This episode is jam-packed with data, workforce news, tools & resources, and step-by-step strategies manufacturers can take action on right away.

3 Big Takeaways from this episode:

  1. "Talent" is the #1 challenge keeping manufacturers from adopting smart manufacturing: SME and CESMII's 2022 Smart Manufacturing Survey sought to find out what challenges small-to-midsize manufacturers face in adopting smart manufacturing. Not surprisingly, the number one answer was a lack of talent (skilled or unskilled). We dive deep into the labor shortage crisis, how education is stepping up to build a pipeline into manufacturing, and most importantly, the opportunities for employers to deliver training for their own employees to solve this challenge.
  2. Large manufacturers are taking a leadership role in sharing smart manufacturing insights to the entire ecosystem: The large manufacturers have been on the frontlines of the Industry 4.0 revolution. They've been taking the brunt of learning and retooling and now recognize the importance of sharing their knowledge along their supply chain and with the ecosystem in general. The Smart Manufacturing Executive Council is a prime example of leaders stepping up to disperse knowledge to all.
  3. Manufacturing has fallen behind nearly every other sector in their employee training practices: Manufacturers have a long way to go in embracing new technology and tools for training. The industry may even need a cultural shift to get incumbent worker training to the level it needs to be. We discuss mindset changes toward training, technologies like virtual reality, and utilizing tools like certifications.

BONUS: SME and CESMII put together a framework for manufacturers to take steps toward Industry 4.0. Jeannine touches on the first three steps your organization can take, and they don't require extensive knowledge or capital to implement.


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Additional tools & resources mentioned in this episode:

SME Education Foundation resources mentioned in this episode:

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