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As Baby Boomers reach retirement, the manufacturing industry is facing a skills dilemma. While the U.S. is dealing with an aging population across the board, the manufacturing industry is at a disproportionate disadvantage—in 2012, the median age of employees was 44.7 years old in manufacturing, compared to 42.3 in the total non-farm workforce. As more and more workers reach retirement, finding and training younger talent to replace experienced employees is become increasingly difficult.

Finding ways to address the loss of older workers is key: Few industries are as fundamental to our economic prosperity—every dollar spent in manufacturing adds $1.37 to the U.S. economy—and few face as many compliance risks and regulations. On top of regulations, manufacturing jobs are becoming more complex, requiring advanced technical skills and knowledge about sophisticated machinery, robotics and process-controlled software.

As talent management becomes increasingly difficult, companies must develop new methods for assessing and monitoring employee skills. Below are three main challenges facing manufacturers, which can be addressed during hiring and ongoing talent management with Cornerstone OnDemand's new Observation Checklist:

Meeting Compliance

Mistakes in standard operating procedures (SOP) are both dangerous and costly in the manufacturing industry. Cornerstone's Observation Checklist can help companies establish SOP to ensure quality control and safety, decreasing accidents and boosting compliance by assessing employees skills and verifying proper adherence to procedures.

Determining Competency Levels

Assessment of required competencies—such as safety procedures and assembly operations—can't always be measured on a typical rating scale or as part of an annual review. Cornerstone's Observation Checklist can be used as the last step in on-boarding to validate an employee's skills, and help connect what was taught in training class with job performance through checklist validations.

Assessing Skills in Real-Time

Many manufacturing skills must be demonstrated or certified (e.g., how to properly use a press break) on the job, which can be cumbersome and time-consuming for managers. The Observation Checklist enables evaluation of skills in real-time by multiple sources—such as the shift manager, safety manager and instructor.

Managers can observe, record and assess skills on the floor to understand which employees are properly trained to operate certain machinery and which employees need additional training before they're allowed on the assembly floor. In addition, managers can record and access information 24/7 through Cornerstone's mobile application, allowing users to validate skills on the fly.

By integrating the checklist into your talent management strategy, you can increase quality control, eliminate workplace hazards and improve compliance. To learn more, check out the datasheet on Cornerstone's Observation Checklist for Manufacturing.

Photo: Creative Commons