Skills under scrutiny

A 'hard look' is required

Skills sought in manufacturing
“Global sourcing of skills in the manufacturing sector can exacerbate South Africa’s already tenuous skills position with far-reaching implications for the country’s economy”. 
Quoting from a report just released by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte, Dirk van Dyk – CEO of the National Tooling Initiative – Intsimbi Programme – a multi - stakeholder intervention in the Tool, Die and Mould manufacturing (TDM) sector of SA, told the recent National Skills Summit in Pretoria that globally more than 10 million manufacturing positions are unfilled and cannot currently be filled due to a growing skills gap.
“The future of global manufacturing is turning into a competition for global talent. The trend is mirrored in SA, where a lack of skills is adding to the woes of a manufacturing sector that has grown by just over 2% in five years” says Van Dyk.
“The reality is that only countries and companies that can attract develop and maintain the highest skilled talent will show significant growth in manufacturing in the future.  
South Africa suffers a critical skills shortage despite a high unemployment rate and the country’s emerging economy therefore needs to take a “hard look” at all aspects of its manufacturing capabilities”.
He pointed out that globally manufacturing is changing due to growing information technology and virtual reality deployment, the use of more advanced materials and processes, higher levels of automation, shorter lead times, higher output efficiencies, green/environmental constraints and new modes of communication.
“This changing environment requires more diverse skills sets from engineers, technicians and artisans” says Van Dyk.
With reference to skills development, Van Dyk says traditional in-house training programmes have become too expensive and that the manufacturing industry will in future require “Just-in-time” or “Plug and Play” employees that already have the required work skills, proficiencies and abilities demanded by the job. The focus will increasingly be placed on higher end skills as technology will make the manufacturing environment eventually a totally programmable system.
Van Dyk identifies six drivers of change of future work skills, namely computational impact, the rise of smart machines, increasing human longevity - changing the nature of learning and careers- a new media ecology, super structured organisations and globalisation.
He emphasized that in order to succeed, the future workforce will need key skills such as the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed, social intelligence - the ability to connect to others, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions, novel and adaptive thinking, cross cultural competencies and computational thinking or the ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts.
The skilled employee of the future will also have to be new media literate, trans disciplinary with the ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines, equipped with a design mindset  with he ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes  for desired outcomes, have cognitive load management or the ability to discriminate and filter information for importance and understanding and maximize cognitive functioning and be a virtual collaborator with the ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.
Van Dyk says if the South African manufacturing sector wants to successfully developed the required skills for future growth and competitiveness, the sector needs to focus on the early attraction of talent as required by every manufacturing discipline.
Manufacturing should furthermore put a high premium on sector specific investment through multiple entry point systems, modular qualification structures, full articulation between artisan, technician and engineering training, continuous incremental development, industry driven standards, sector driven demand planning and the effective warehousing of “work-ready” candidates.
“Without a critical examination and an innovative approach to future skills development in the manufacturing sector the closing of the skills gap is unlikely and significant growth and global competitiveness will remain a pipedream,” says Van Dyk.
comments powered by Disqus


This edition

Issue 58