News flash. Well-paying, manufacturing jobs are back – and going to keep growing.
Conventional wisdom presumes that manufacturing jobs don’t require much training or skill. Such belief is pure fallacy. Today’s problem isn’t a dearth of manufacturing jobs. It’s a lack of candidates with skills in manufacturing.
The good news is that with a little bit of training – and on the job learning – you can acquire the skills it takes to have a successful career in manufacturing. The following ten manufacturing employee skills will boost your career.
Twenty-First Century Work Skills in Manufacturing
Manufacturing covers a broad facet of jobs – from manufacturing fasteners to rocket odometers. The skills required to succeed and advance your career in manufacturing remain broadly the same regardless. They can largely be broken down into two types: soft skills and technical skills.
5 Soft Skills in Manufacturing to Boost Your Career
Soft skills are more important than ever in today’s manufacturing industry. The adjective “soft” is unfortunate given manufacturing jobs are typically seen as tough. (The working class is anything but soft!) Don’t let the name fool you.
Soft skills require practice, focus, and commitment to master. They are workplace differentiators. They are well worth the time spent to learn.
Communication is one of the most sought-after skills in all industries – manufacturing or otherwise. Communication skills can be parlayed into any type of communication – spoken, written, and even body language.
Focus on your communication skills in the following three areas to see immediate results:
- Inclusive Communication: Gain respect from coworkers by showing empathy for others and actively listening. Avoid sarcastic humor that might be misinterpreted or offensive. Use respectful language.
- Professional Communication: Learn and use the terminology and technical vocabulary of the manufacturers and industry you are working for. Standardized terminology is best for clear, mistake-free communication.
- Succinct Communication: Less is often more in workplace communication. Avoid meandering digressions. Get to the point. Clarity is of the essence in high-production and stressful settings.
Manufacturing life is all about how you handle Plan B. Being open to change and “rolling with it” is shown to benefit and grow careers.
Today manufacturers want to hire people that are adaptable. Technology and industry change fast. Managers want employees who are able to keep up and willing to adapt to new processes or roles in a facility – just-in-time adaptability.
3. Trainable & Growth Mindset
You can never learn enough to be good at your job forever. Technology, processes, and protocols continually evolve. Training can help you stay up to date with your skills.
A willingness to learn is even more important. Training can only help when you are willing to listen and apply your new skills. A key soft skill is accepting constructive feedback from colleagues and supervisors.
4. Critical Thinking
Manufacturers also want dependable employees, who can think through problems quickly and make informed decisions. Thinking outside of the box in manufacturing has led to great inventions – sticky notes and gunpowder.
Critical thinking is a learnable and valuable skill. Don’t be afraid to couple your ideas with your communication skills to let your company know of inefficiencies or better ways of doing things.
5. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the capability to analyze the emotions of those around you, including your own, to successfully interact with others regardless of the context. It’s generally agreed that emotional intelligence is comprised of five key components:
- Social Skill
Master these five traits and you will go further in life – and in manufacturing!
5 Technical Skills in Manufacturing to Boost Your Career
Technical skills most often require some form of training or apprenticeship to become proficient, experience to master. These can also go out of date without practice or knowledge upkeep. The specific technical skills required for different types of manufacturing jobs will vary depending on your particular industry.
1. Interest in Technology and Digital Fluency
Manufacturing is a technology-based industry. Almost all machines are computerized to some extent. (Even small digital scales require coding!) Many industries have become heavily robotic.
Manufacturing companies need employees who are comfortable tinkering with and learning about technology. Having tech-savvy employees helps companies troubleshoot inevitable technology glitches. It can also help companies avoid having them pop up in the first place.
2. The Right-Kind of Coding and Software Development
Learning software and coding is encouraged ubiquitously these days, but there are so many coding and scripting languages, it can be difficult knowing where to start. Manufacturing industries are dominated by CAD and CAT software. Learning these packages will give you an edge up in the marketplace. The languages C, C++, and Python are frequently useful as well, particularly in electronics manufacturing.
3. Manufacturing Techniques and Processes
Every manufacturing industry has its own machines, computer interfaces, and processes to learn. Master them to advance, emphasize learning them if you are just beginning. The more you know about how things are done in a specific manufacturing facility, or in several different ones, the more compatible (and adaptable) you’ll be in the manufacturing workforce.
4. Industry-Specific Competencies
Certain industries may require particular competencies – coding, software, or machine operation. Learn what these are for the industry you are interested in. One great way to learn more is to attend industry-specific trade shows. Sometimes a willingness and desire to learn the competencies is enough to secure employment. It highlights another valuable skill – your willingness to learn.
5. Lean Manufacturing, ISO Regulations, and Six Sigma
Experience is often the best educator in manufacturing. The problem for manufacturers is that most experienced employees are retirement age. Your manufacturing career will benefit if you commit to getting certified in Lean methodology, ISO regulations, and Six Sigma. Certification in these areas will help you advance in your manufacturing career.
The Benefit of Having Diverse Skills in Manufacturing
Today the problem isn’t a dearth of manufacturing jobs. It’s a lack of quality candidates with the right skills in manufacturing.
View this as an opportunity. Focus on becoming proficient in these ten skill areas, and you will be a step above the rest in establishing a successful and rewarding career in manufacturing.
Attend the International Fastener Expo 2021 to meet some of the top manufacturers and launch your career in manufacturing.