With the beginning of a new calendar year, manufacturers everywhere should resolve to optimize their function in what’s become an ever-changing industry. Keeping up with progress should not feel like a game of cat and mouse, but rather a challenge to employees to show that they care enough about their career path to keep up with these developments.
Both fresh faces and seasoned veterans can increase their value to the industry by boosting their credentials which they may do by acquiring new skills, earning a certification, or even just tuning into a manufacturing podcast.
Here are six attainable goals that any manufacturing employee should have in 2018.
1. Find a favorite blog or podcast.
Manufacturing as a whole has now fully embraced content, and there are many entertainment resources for employees who may want to enjoy it. In the digital world we’re living in, the informed manufacturer is the most valuable manufacturer. Manufacturers who care to educate themselves on the direction the industry is headed and what this means for the average employee will never feel that they are left in the dust.
Both blogs and podcasts focus on trends, news, research and the like that represent the current standing of the field as a whole. Having a go-to manufacturing blog or podcast will keep any employee in the know in regards to industry news and trends.
An example is the Advanced Manufacturing podcast, which focuses on progression in the industry. Various hosts rotate talking about different topics in the manufacturing, with special emphasis on new technology and the benefits created. Additionally, our own Apple Rubber blog strives to keep up with the ever-changing industry, and specifically pays mind to topics relevant to the rubber manufacturing community.
2. Consider continuing your education.
Education is a long-term investment in your future, and regardless of which stage of your career you’re at, the advantages are both personal and professional. A continuation of your education ensures you have the tools necessary to be successful in the industry.
Many employers see fit to promote employees with a higher level of education, or even simply those who show initiative by going back to school. Some businesses will even offer financial assistance in pursuit of an advanced degree, so if you’re not aware of the opportunities available at your company, just ask.
Attaining a higher level of education is evidenced to have higher earnings potential and increase job satisfaction. In the digital era we are living in, there is also the option of an online learning opportunity in place of a traditional classroom, for those that may have the itch but are prevented by a commitment to their current job.
3. Earn a certification.
Though certifications are not required for a number of manufacturing positions, they demonstrate a commitment to the industry, regardless of which career stage an employee may be in. Certifications are a great way to add to credentials and distinguish between coworkers — especially for those who may be looking for advancement opportunities in the workplace.
Certifications offer an alternative way to boost your resume minus the devotion that another degree demands. There are a number of validations of skill available within the industry, with specializations within different fields of manufacturing.
Examples are a Project Management Professional certification (which attests to one’s ability to oversee a project’s growth), Apple Rubber Academy (a free certification course where you can prove your expertise on rubber engineering) and a Certified Manufacturing Engineer certification (which asks that its candidates meet a list of criteria). You can read about more certifications available to manufacturing employees here.
4. Cross train.
As the current discussion on the future of manufacturing seems to somehow always circumnavigate the skills gap, the demand is higher for employees who “cross train,” or retain their labor value by educating themselves outside of their areas of specialization. This makes manufacturing employees more versatile are more marketable.
It is essential that we invest in learning new technologies outside our domain and gain functional knowledge in emerging industries like fintech, social and digital media. Cross training might also include experiences with augmented or virtual reality (AR/VR), artificial intelligence, or cybersecurity, among others.
Cross training is a viable goal for both younger and veteran manufacturers, especially to attain job security in smaller businesses that are looking to go digital. The most valuable employees will be those who are the most versatile.
5. Commit to a safe work environment.
Workplace safety should be as much of an employee affair as it is for management. It is the attitudes and actions of both levels that uphold policy and help shape a “safety culture” that spreads throughout an organization.
According to the Labor Department, an examination of the time period from October 2016 to September 2017 revealed that the number of OSHA inspections increased by a few hundred for the first time in five years. However, the number of OSHA inspectors has fallen below one thousand, and the government is not encouraging any new hires.
Therefore, this should prompt the workers to educate themselves on OSHA standards, and attempt to change any workplace areas that fail to meet regulation. Potentially hazardous situations should be brought to the attention of management or the Human Resource department.
6. Speak the digital language.
This year, manufacturing will certainly continue its evolution as a part of a new digital era, but many of its employees reside in a grey area of sorts when it comes to tech speak. Being able to be part of the conversation as industry trends and technologies continue to digitize will characterize will distinguish average employees from standout employees.
MAPI blogger Jenn Callaway even ventures to say that digital language may vary between businesses, and the concern should not be with mastering the general language, but rather, the dialect. That is, how these digital terms are interpreted and implemented at your company.
For example, manufacturers should differentiate digital strategy from IT strategy in their business model. Digital often refers to the technologies implemented to create value, while IT is the network of available solutions.
What’s your manufacturing New Year’s resolution?
What are some of your professional goals for 2018? What are your thoughts on these six manufacturing resolutions? Let us know by connecting with us on Twitter @AppleRubber.