Hiring Success! Manufacturing Job Training Program Yields Impressive Results.
By Dale Graves, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager
It is a tough hiring market right now. Employers of all types are struggling to find people with even the simple skills we used to take for granted. We’re talking about things like listening skills, the ability to communicate clearly, an understanding of teamwork, and perhaps most importantly today, the desire to show up to work on time every day, ready to contribute and do their part.
Beyond these soft skills and a rudimentary work ethic, manufacturers also need people with some fundamental knowledge that unfortunately, many applicants don’t have. For example, manufacturing job training becomes even more difficult if a new hire isn’t comfortable using a tape measure, or has never seen a blueprint, or doesn’t have the basic logic tools to approach problem solving. It’s also helpful if new hires have some sense of the language of manufacturing, including common terms and basic concepts.
The Basics of Manufacturing Training Program is designed to teach potential job applicants important fundamental skills like these and give people an overview of what manufacturing is all about. It’s essentially a manufacturing orientation 101. The goal is to make course participants better applicants for manufacturing jobs, with a higher potential for success when they’re hired.
Missouri Enterprise has partnered with job centers across the state of Missouri to facilitate these events. The program is a weeklong commitment for students that sign up for the class and there is no cost for them to attend. The Basics of Manufacturing Training Program consists of four days of instruction, followed by an interview day where course participants are connected directly with local manufacturers who are looking to fill jobs. The itinerary includes:
Day 1 – Soft Skills: We spend day 1 going through the soft skills that will help no matter what field or job you may go to. We start with Professionalism and give a good overview of what professionalism means and why it is important in the workplace. We also discuss Effective Communication, including the components of communication, how we communicate, effective listening, delivering your message, and why effective communication is so important. Day 1 concludes with an introduction to the benefits of teamwork, why we use teams, team structure, and different workplace teams.
Day 2 – Blueprint Reading: Day 2 is a full day of blueprint reading. We start with the basics, the structure of a blueprint – borders, title blocks, scaled drawings, etc. Then we move into more complex parts of blueprint reading talking about the different views, what the different lines mean, tolerances, and dimensions. By the end of the day the students have a good overview of how to read a blueprint and what the information means.
Day 3 – Measuring: Day 3 starts with the basics of measuring. We teach participants how to read and use a tape measure and do many exercises to demonstrate practical everyday applications of a tape measure. We also teach them to read and use a 6” scale, followed by exercises where the students use a scale to measure. The last half of day 3 gets into using micrometers and calipers. We teach them how to use and read each device and then they do an in-depth measuring exercise that is a good example of an actual quality check/exercise that would be done in a manufacturing facility.
Day 4 – Lean Manufacturing, Problem Solving, Manufacturing Process Overview: Day 4 starts with an introduction to Lean Manufacturing. We talk about its origins and introduce Lean’s main components. Next, we go through Problem Solving, where we cover different problem-solving techniques and how they apply in a manufacturing workplace. Finally, we go through an example of a manufacturing process from start to finish, from raw materials to movement through the factory, to the production of finished goods. Day 4 also focuses heavily on common terminology used in a manufacturing facility.
Day 5 – Interviews: Day 5 is when we bring local manufacturers to interview the students that completed the class. We contact manufacturers weeks before the class and give them notice about the upcoming event so they can be prepared to conduct interviews on site when the course is complete. The feedback from manufacturers who have participated in these hiring events has been tremendous, and they want us to conduct more of these training programs. They report that graduates of the Basics of Manufacturing Training Program are better hires who become better employees, with a higher potential to stay and grow with their company.
No one expects the people who complete the Basics of Manufacturing Training Program to leave as experts on any of the material we cover, but when participants complete the training, manufacturing is no longer like a foreign language to them, and they are better prepared to do well when they get to the factory floor. The simple fact that graduates showed up on time every day for a week, ready to learn and better themselves, bodes well for their potential for success at your company. Our goal is to prepare people for a job in manufacturing by giving them soft skill knowledge and basic technical skills manufacturers are looking for in their new hires.
Unfortunately, the pandemic put a temporary stop to the classes being held at the job centers, but we are happy to report they are up and running again, with our first class since COVID recently being completed at the St Joseph, MO job center. Throughout the program, our students have had an exceptionally high success rate. We’re proud to say that nearly all the graduates of the Basics of Manufacturing Training Program receive job offers from the interviews conducted on the last day of training. That’s impressive, and we’re excited about the potential to do more. Missouri Enterprise is working hard to expand this successful program. Opportunities include discussions with the Department of Corrections so they can offer the program to improve inmate chances of succeeding when they reenter society, and we are working with a number of manufacturers to implement elements of the program privately at their facilities. The Basics of Manufacturing Training Program is designed to help manufacturers find and make better hires. It gives people basic training in skills that manufacturers need, and helps people enter a career in manufacturing with a far better chance to succeed into the future