Soon, many manufacturing companies will miss out on one of their most valuable resources—50% of their valuable resources! It is not the C-level executive or the manager, but production workers on the manufacturing floor, making the product that are aging out. In 2017, in the US, 50% of all workers in Manufacturing were over the age of 45. Those 55 and older are 25% of total employment. (BLS, 01/2019)
The difficulties in attracting and recruiting younger people to the manufacturing floor have been widely quantified. However, what is not being discussed is the knowledge gap and knowledge transfer needed to effectively train and transition new operators. When you do bring in new inexperienced workers, are you able to promote knowledge transfer from experienced operators? You may have mentoring programs for the new manager, but have you established mentoring opportunities for new operators?
You may believe all the knowledge you need is within your documentation and training programs. However, even the best documentation programs do not cover all issues that can show up on a given day. There is a strong chance your experienced operators are holding proprietary knowledge and established procedures to handle challenges that even their supervisor, engineers, and managers do not know.
As your workforce on the floor retires, don’t be caught with a knowledge gap. Use your best operators to mentor your younger workers. Include your new workforce into your mentoring programs.
– Steve Ham, Executive On Demand