Despite all the hype, automation is not eliminating all of the jobs in manufacturing. Instead, it is altering the job they do and demanding higher levels of skill and expertise of those who remain on the shop floor. This is creating a number of problems for the manufacturing industry. Let’s look at the training and development challenges facing the manufacturing industry. We’ll also share some of the solutions to these problems.

The Legally Mandated Training

Manufacturing remains physically demanding and often dangerous. This is why there is so much legally mandated safety training, while businesses must regularly offer and track training completion to remain in compliance.

Learning management systems that offer these mandatory courses provide a way for everyone to take training on their own schedule while giving businesses a simple way of tracking and enforcing training requirements. One benefit of outsourcing learning to third-party companies that provide mandated training is that they stay on top of compliance regulations and update the courses they provide to your team members.

The Ongoing Evolution of Business Processes

Automation and computer-controlled machinery are replacing manual labour, but they don’t entirely replace the need for people. Instead, your staff need to become tech savvy. They have to be able to support or tend to several machines at once. Furthermore, they need to be able to troubleshoot issues these machines have with minimum supervision.

You could train people virtually on new equipment before they’re put in front of the machine. They’ll be more confident when they walk up to the machine, and you know they’re not going to damage it while learning how to operate it. As the software or equipment changes, use learning management systems to train everyone on how to properly use the equipment.

The Increasing Demand for Soft Skills

Soft skills training can cover everything from decision making in dangerous situations, to interpersonal skills, to English language skills. It can teach them how to properly handle software error messages, unsafe practices by a co-worker, or the technical jargon that is part of the modern manufacturing environment.

It is hard to beat the benefit of mastering technology by using online learning tools. Yet this doesn’t have to come at the expense of the human touch. Services like Superprof, for instance, connect your employees to tutors who can help them master any subject. They can improve their understanding of trigonometry or chemistry so that they understand the why and how behind the manufacturing process. Or, you can have them work with English second language tutors to improve their conversational English so they can better communicate with co-workers. You could also have English-speaking team members work on Spanish, German, Italian or Chinese so that they can talk to co-workers and suppliers on the other side of the world. Superprof can also connect you with supply tutors who are familiar with the legal system and can get future managers up to speed on legal jargon.

A side benefit of learning management systems is that it can help you keep new talent. Provide training to move people up the ladder, and they’re much more likely to stay. Whether it is training someone in packaging to become a better paid machine operator or management is their decision.

The Need to Bring New People into the Manufacturing Workforce

The manufacturing workforce is older than average. The looming wave of Baby Boomer retirements threatens to leave the manufacturing industry short of talent, since there are relatively few kids coming out of school ready and able to work in manufacturing.

Businesses that train people often have them poached by competitors. Learning management systems and good educational benefits can help close the skills gap. Bring in people who are competent and eager to learn but don’t know how to do the job. Offer a mix of on the job training and online learning modules to upgrade their skills and make them eligible for higher paying jobs. They’ll be loyal to the company for investing in them, and you’ll get team members who can work in lower skill roles while training to take on new work.

One issue that firms currently face is that in-house training tends to be chaotic. They don’t always have formal training and apprenticeship programs. Or they end up failing to send people to training that can disrupt the flow of work. This can result in unequal quality of training. That is eliminated by the use of learning management systems and online training. A side benefit for businesses is that it can eliminate the need for special premises and scheduling challenges trying to send all of your new hires to class together. It also gives people more flexibility in when they take their online training. They can do their homework when work in the shop is slow.

The Need to Cut Costs

Manufacturing operations are under pressure on all fronts to cut costs while improving quality. You can’t afford to hire a professional to teach a half-full classroom of new hires, some of whom won’t be there in three years. Online training allows you to eliminate training centres and only tap into professionally crafted learning modules when required. This lowers the overall cost of onboarding and skills training.

Learning and Development Could be the Solution to Low Engagement

If employers in the manufacturing industry want to be able to retain new employees and attract new ones, they’ll have no choice but to pay more attention to learning and development. In one particular study that was conducted by the Carnegie Institute, a whopping 40 percent of all new hires said that they quit their company because of poor training.

Disengagement is also a major issue that will need to be tackled. According to another study, lack of engagement costs more than £300 billion to businesses every year. This is no longer something that can be avoided, and doing something as simple as building a solid learning and development strategy could make a world of difference on your employees’ growth and sense of purpose, and their efficiency as well.

This could also be a great opportunity to build leadership in-house instead of branching out. These new leaders will then have a more thorough understanding of your business’s processes, and will not need as much on-boarding.

Not only will your employees be more productive, but investing in them will end up allowing you to save a lot of money in the long run. Having to constantly train new hires not only costs your company in hours lost by valuable staff, but will hurt your productivity as well. You simply cannot expect new hires to perform at the same level as older ones. In addition, the burden put on your HR department to constantly scour for and interview new talent will also start to eat into your bottom line. Lack of stability can also start to erode the morale of some of your older employees, which could lead to more of them quitting as well.


Your business cannot afford to ignore the need to invest in the ongoing education of your workforce. Fortunately, there are new ways to deliver this training at a lower cost and with greater quality and consistency.