Investing in industrial training programs can help close skills gaps across your workforce as well as prepare for the sudden changes to come in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as the Industry 4.0. In recent years, the industrial job market has faced a severe shortage of skilled workers. And at the same time, business operations and workflows have become dependent on technology, as new digital tools emerge.

To keep up with digital transformation, businesses need to implement industrial training programs to sustain growth and innovation. Comprehensive training can empower your employees to work with today’s cutting-edge technologies. Let’s examine some of the ways that industrial job training can help reduce skills gaps and best practices on how to implement an award-winning program in your organization.

The Impact of Industry 4.0

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the widespread technological shift occurring across every industry today. This movement includes the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), big data and automation among other emerging technologies. A major side effect of Industry 4.0 is the skills gap and an overall lack of qualified job candidates. Training is part of the cause of this and also the solution.

In the past, many industrial jobs required a fairly standard, specific knowledge of machine processes and maybe some training with human-machine interface systems. This baseline knowledge and training changed gradually over the years. In the past decade or two, technological disruption has skyrocketed in the industrial workforce.

The internet and the rapid development of robotics and AI have drastically impacted the training needed in most industrial roles. This change is happening faster than businesses and employees can keep up. Fewer Millennials and Gen Z employees are coming into the industrial workforce with new skills sets, largely due to shifting perceptions about trade and industrial careers.

Also, Gen Z is attending college more than any other generation in history. A growing lack of trade and industrial training programs in schools is only worsening this issue. Industry 4.0 is making training critical for current and future employees. Solving the skills gap requires more access to industrial training for all.

Solving the Labor Shortage

The entire workforce is facing labor shortages. In fact, a record number of Americans are quitting their jobs, with over 4.5 million resignations as of November 2021. This means every remaining employee is significantly more valuable today. Industrial training programs could equip existing workers with new skills that remove the need to hire new ones. This bridges the labor shortage and industrial skills gap.

Industrial training programs require funding from employers, however this investment will pay itself off tenfold in the long and short term. Workplace education programs often creates a snowball effect that’s beneficial for everyone involved.

For example, an industrial business might hire an expert to lead a training program on bandsaw safety for its employees. The cost of that course is not just paying for a handful of people to learn how to use a new piece of technology. It is also helping future workers know how to use that equipment since existing employees will be able to lead training after receiving it themselves. The program’s cost would be far less than hiring and paying a new employee.

Instead of seeking new employees, businesses are far better off creating value among those they already have. At the same time, leaders can establish industrial training programs for students and educators in their communities. This will help increase interest in these careers while also cultivating a new generation of employees ready to fill the skills gap when they enter the workforce.

Starting Industrial Training Programs

Some businesses are hesitant to start industrial training programs because they are unsure where to begin. It can be intimidating at first, but there are ways to help get a new training program on the right track.

A crucial first step is defining exactly what abilities employees currently lack. These should be hard skills, things that can be taught, such as a specific programming language or new kind of software. Reskilling employees would be the goal of the training program.

The next step is converting that goal into tangible learning objectives, like for example, “learn how to operate a bandsaw” as a learning objective would be “learn how to operate a bandsaw independently by course session three.” It is also important to have a business objective in mind, which should result from teaching employees new skills.

The next step is to plan the training methods that will be used in the program. This will depend entirely on what is being taught. For example, some skills are easier to learn with group work, while others can only be learned independently. Set a clear timeline for the industrial training program, with a gradual progression through the topic being taught. It is also important to evaluate the training program’s effectiveness, both during and after. Be willing to update and revise it for future sessions and take feedback from employees.

Using Education to Close the Skills Gap

The void between employees’ skills and what industrial businesses need can be filled with industrial training programs. Closing the skills gap is simply a matter of providing accessible training to existing and future employees. This education offers an exponential return on investment over time and empowers employees to continue learning and growing. An industrial training program can result in supportive workplace morale and a team of highly skilled, versatile workers.