How Australian manufacturers can invest in people

The future of work in the Australian manufacturing sector will be vastly different from what we know today, but it will offer unique rewards, opportunities, and challenges for those who want secure employment in an essential industry, writes Tiffany Gierke, Head of Education, SYSPRO

Australia was previously a huge manufacturer of a huge range of products that are now sourced offshore, but the pandemic has shone a stark light on the vulnerable position our reliance on overseas manufacturers leaves us in. The Australian Government has pledged to re-evaluate supply chains and put a greater focus on niche manufacturing within the country as well as investing $1.5 billion. The industry is responding by embracing innovation and increasing their ability to compete in a global market. This will provide more jobs for Australians, in addition to the 1.3 million the industry already employs.

With Australia’s reignited manufacturing industry set to boom, with more jobs, more innovation and more digitalisation, we need to be fully prepared to compete in a global market. The required digital capabilities will be essential for both existing and prospective employees to ensure we can take full advantage of the local sector’s anticipated growth.

As the Australian manufacturing industry prepares itself to fill essential skills gaps left by employee turnover, ageing workforces and halted migration, young people are in a great position to be able to fill the growing number of roles available to find secure employment. Whilst innovation is becoming a top priority and the utilisation of digital tools and technologies will become commonplace, future talent and existing workers will need transferable digital skills to keep up with the pace of change.

According to PwC, in the next 15 years, 33 per cent of manufacturing jobs will become augmented by technology, requiring a balance of human and machine resources. Whilst 30 per cent of jobs (640,000 approximately) will become fully automated.

People should be a priority for manufacturing businesses and upskilling them must be a priority, too. Here are some ways that a manufacturing company can invest in its people and future proof its business.

  1. Provide learning opportunities for employees so they can grow

People are an organisation’s greatest asset and investing in learning and development opportunities for them has many benefits. By enabling them to learn new skills and become proficient on new systems, they are enabled to grow, gain confidence in their newfound skills, and potentially providing them with opportunities to move up into more senior roles, or into different areas in the business.

Throughout this process, employee engagement should be driven using recognition badges and leadership boards. These social reward structures also offer an opportunity to track employee engagement and performance.

Microlearning offers learners with limited free time the opportunity to upskill in manageable, shorter modules which help to increase knowledge transfer and engagement and increase development speed.

  1. Choose easily accessible online training platforms

Many businesses have had to shift to a more digital environment, in all departments from operations, to sales, and distribution. In many instances, this has meant forgoing the old paper-based systems and having to quickly train their employees to use the company’s digitally enabled ERP systems more effectively. For some employees this may be the first time they are using an ERP system, so it is important to have easily accessible online training platforms that enable them to learn, not only the basics of how to use the ERP software, but also how to gain the most from the individual modules that are relevant to their specific area of focus.

  1. Personalise your employee’s learning experiences

Today, everything from recommended restaurants on food delivery apps, to online shopping, or suggestions on what to watch via streaming services are all driven by AI. These recommendations are based on past choices, which are an indication of previous interest. Therefore e-learning experiences be personalised as well. An ERP solution provider should run training on a platform that offers personalised learning experiences, across all devices with modules that are less focused on heavy theory, and rather infused with useful practical applications, curated content, and microlearning assets. The platform should be able to identify each user’s particular area of interest and make recommendations of courses the user might be interested in enrolling in, in the future.

Employee engagement should be driven using recognition badges and leadership boards. These social reward structures also offer an opportunity to track employee engagement and performance.

  1. Choose micro-learning to help time-constrained employees to study

Let’s be honest, many people battle to find the time to complete additional studies, and the longer and more intense the course, the more difficult it becomes to remain engaged and prioritise that required time. Microlearning offers learners with limited free time the opportunity to upskill in manageable, shorter modules which help to increase knowledge transfer and engagement and increase development speed. Because the modules are smaller, they often cost less which helps to reduce training costs for an organisation while still ensuring their employees are getting valuable learning transfer. A recent LinkedIn Learning survey recently showed that 58 per cent of employees prefer opportunities that allow learning at their own pace.

The future of work in the Australian manufacturing sector will be vastly different from what we know today, but it will offer unique rewards, opportunities, and challenges for those who want secure employment in an essential industry. By upskilling our manufacturing workforce with digital skills and investing in their learning and development, people will be able to find their feet in a radically new workforce as digitalisation becomes an inescapable reality.

Image Source: Pixabay