Cisco Canada Blog

Struggling with How To Close your Factory’s Talent Gap? Try Collaboration.

April 20, 2017

Last month, The Future of the Manufacturing Labour Force in Canada report was released and revealed Canadian manufacturers are facing a talent gap of 129,000 skilled workers by 2026.

The reasons for this are simple.

Skilled employees currently on the factory floor are, on average, older than the overall labour force – in some communities, 20 per cent are over the age of 55. Many of our most experienced production line workers and specialists are close to retirement.

Fewer young adults are entering the right programs to replace these retiring workers, and the industry is changing so rapidly that training for new roles isn’t widely available. Manufacturers can’t hire workers who don’t exist.

Third, the industry is expected to grow – significantly – by 2026. Even if retiring workers were replaced at a 1:1 ratio by new talent, there would still be a gap on our factory floors.

This problem extends beyond our borders. In the United States, a report from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte LLC forecasts a potential skills gap of 2 million jobs over the same period, for much of the same reasons.

Aging Workforce. Education. Training and development.

Manufacturers on both sides of the border are at a crossroads. They need to rapidly train and develop young talent for the jobs of today and tomorrow, while finding ways to accommodate aging workers close to retirement. They also need solutions that will help them save time and money while the workers of tomorrow are still in school.

Collaboration technologies are those solutions.

(If you aren’t familiar, collaboration technologies allow us to communicate via voice, video and messaging. They are the business equivalent of FaceTime or What’s App – encrypted, secured and built for the enterprise.)

Not convinced? Here are three examples to consider:

Remote Mentorship and Expertise

Give your experienced talent the opportunity to mentor younger colleagues, even those thousands of kilometers away, from home by installing a web conferencing solution such as Cisco WebEx. Aging workers avoid excess travel, and young workers receive the knowledge they need to thrive. You can even try Cisco WebEx free, to see how you like it.

Or imagine this: your factory in Windsor recently lost a senior engineer to retirement and you haven’t replaced them. Suddenly, a machine overheats on the floor, stopping production. You are losing thousands of dollars every minute. What do you do?

Related: This is the Solution to Troubleshooting on your Factory Floor

Well, if you have a video solution in place your workers in Windsor immediately connect to a senior engineer in your Hamilton facility who observes what is happening, in real-time, on the floor. And if that video solution includes Cisco Spark, your Hamilton engineer can even whiteboard a solution, saving valuable time and money.

Education and Training

With video and web conferencing, a large number of your employees can be trained at once across all locations (including remote workers). Better yet – the training only needs to be completed once, as you can record the session and instruct future hires to view it as part of their onboarding and development. For senior production staff and management, this vastly reduces the time, and money, spent on multiple in-person events, putting essential time back on their calendars.

Talent Acquisition

Millennials are becoming the dominant demographic in our workforce. They are accustomed to new ways of working – over Instant Message, online and via video – and are comfortable using technology, but aren’t shy about their loyalties. According to a recent Deloitte survey, 61% plan to leave their current role within the next 5 years and 75% would like to work from home, or do so more frequently. To acquire, and retain, the best young talent, you will need to offer millennials a workplace experience that mirrors how they communicate in their personal lives.

Convinced yet? Don’t just take my word for it – try them for yourself, and see how it feels to work with freedom:

Cisco Spark Free Trial:

Cisco WebEx Free Trial:

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