Searching for Skilled Workers? Here’s Part of the Solution
In recent years, manufacturers have found it increasingly difficult to find trained, skilled employees, especially in the metalworking industry. While there is no one answer to this dilemma, the solution may be found in a multi-pronged approach. One is to make students aware that their perception of manufacturing as a dirty and dangerous industry is outdated, and that a well-run job shop is a clean environment filled with high-tech equipment. Another solution is to provide individuals with disabilities with the tools they’ll need to enter the industrial workforce. In that same vein, employers must be informed that any preconceived notions they may have of massive difficulties associated with accommodating individuals with disabilities in the workplace are behind the times, as well.
My visit to Skills Inc.’s manufacturing/training facility in Auburn—one of four campuses in Washington State—was a revelation on many levels. First, I learned that the company is a not-for-profit entity that was established with the support of Boeing in the late ‘60s. The company now generates nearly 100 percent of its operating revenue, including purchasing its own equipment with little assistance from state and federal grants. In addition, its range of services is impressive. The company manufactures aerospace parts and provides chemical surface finishing. It also offers employee training, certification and job placement, and even technical and business consulting services. Central to both manufacturing and training is staying abreast of the latest technologies, such as Vericut CNC simulation software provided by CGTech. Vericut helps to avoid collisions and correct toolpath errors before programs are even loaded into the machine, the company says, eliminating the need for manual prove-outs and increasing overall process efficiency.
That same sense of efficiency permeates the operation. Based on their strengths, and taking their particular challenge into account, trainees and employees are guided toward positions in which they can succeed. An employee with a physical disability, for instance, may be drawn to positions requiring programming or CNC machine operations. And ergonomics dictate the arrangement of each workstation to suit that person’s particular needs, with all the tools and devices they require carefully arranged and within easy reach.