One World, One Industry: Working Together to Address Workforce Challenges

While the conflict in Ukraine has captured headlines for the past several weeks, the challenges facing companies on the workforce front have not abated. When I speak with executives around the world, they are singing the same song in two-part harmony: supply chain and people.

Let’s talk a little about the people challenges that are keeping management up many nights. Even though we say there is a workforce problem, it is not just one problem. This obstacle is multifaceted. 

Some of the Challenges
Let’s first examine the factory floor. There are several facets to this challenge. First, there is the challenge of finding people, any people, who are willing to work in the industry. It is not that the electronics manufacturing industry isn’t attractive; it is that, due to the downward pressure on electronics, the operator roles don’t tend to pay as much as the Amazon factory down the road. This kind of competition makes it very difficult to find people. Our industry is not the only industry looking for people; practically every industry is looking and trying to make deals to woo employees into their locations. Some of these enticements, such as providing tuition toward a degree if you come to work for their factory, are things that have never been considered at this level of employment. 

The other challenge that has come about due to COVID-19 is that of the virtual workforce. During the pandemic, many of the operators were able to experience getting paid while not going to the factory. This presented a different way of life that had not been considered previously. At the operator and inspector levels, this really isn’t an option. It is almost impossible to build, inspect, test, and verify the electronics coming off the line without being present in the factory. With the ever-changing technology being built and being used to build, the skill set of the workforce in the factory needs to be continually advanced to meet the needs of the business.

The workforce shortage is not limited to just the factory. The dearth of engineers has continued for over a decade, making it critical for us to get engineers aware and interested in the challenging and rewarding career path of electronics manufacturing. The IPC Education Foundation (ipcef.org) is striving diligently to do this at the college level with competitions, awareness campaigns, chapters, and interactions with local electronics shops to help engineers and technicians gain awareness of the interesting and exciting work that is happening, in many cases, right under their noses.

In addition, we are starting to see executives move around the industry as well. The challenges facing operators, technicians, and engineers have escalated in discussion over the past six months, and now seems to be affecting executive positions. As the “Great Resignation” envelops much of the world, opportunities are abounding, and with opportunities comes movement. This is a relatively new phenomenon. These movements are happening both within the industry and with people moving outside of the industry.

Okay, enough of the doom and gloom. We know we have challenges. What are we to do about it?

What Should Be Done?
Let’s talk about potential solutions to each category mentioned above: factory line, technicians, engineers, and executives.

Factory Line
First, we must do what we are good at—we need to innovate. We need to look for people in different ways and in different spaces. I have seen job fairs work to good effect. Now, I know you’re thinking that job fairs are old school. But these latest job fairs are bringing in people, providing tours of the facility, teaching them about the company, interviewing them, and offering them jobs to start as soon as the next Monday—all in the same morning. That is a very different job fair from what we have seen in the past. Another innovation is to look in places we haven’t looked before. I have seen groups approaching families with graduating seniors—not to hire the graduate, but to make an offer to the parent who will no longer have a reason to stay at home. Other innovative sources include the military, prisons, high schools (no, I am not equating high schools to prisons), etc. Look in places where most people don’t look. If you are at a restaurant, for example, and your server is competent, invite them to come to your factory for an interview. Finally, utilize modern skills training programs like the Electronics Assembly for Operators (AEO) and Wiring Harness for Operators (WHO) to bring new talent off the bench and onto the line within hours instead of weeks. 

Stay tuned for a new industry-developed program on the inspector front coming later this year from IPC to help on this increasingly needed (especially with automation increasing) area of expertise.

Engineering
I have already mentioned the efforts of the IPC Education Foundation. If you really want to leverage that, I urge you to get involved. You will find internship opportunities and first-hand interactions to give you a leg up on bringing new graduates into your organization. One other solution that IPC has developed along with the industry, to ensure that new engineers are ready to work in the factory, is the Electronics for Assembly Engineers course. This online course brings novice engineers rapidly up to speed on all the basics of electronics manufacturing. This course is ideal is for new engineers who haven’t had enough exposure to the specifics of our industry. Now they can get that at their own pace and in a consistent manner.

Executives
My best suggestion is one that has been used to great effect in some companies. Just like other industries are looking to poach from our industry, we can look at new sources to pull in from other industries. This opens a whole new pool of people to consider. There are many kinds of manufacturing experts who can translate what they know and have done into our industry, whether at the general manager level, supply chain, procurement, human resources, development, engineering management, or financial. The added benefit of bringing in someone from outside is that you will also get new ideas and approaches. I call it diversity of thought. This is a competitive advantage and not something to be dismissed lightly.

The workforce challenges will continue. We need to continue to do what we do to solve problems: work together and innovate.

This column originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of PCB007 Magazine.

Back

2022

One World, One Industry: Working Together to Address Workforce Challenges

04-21-2022

While the conflict in Ukraine has captured all the headlines for the past several weeks, the challenges facing companies on the workforce front have not abated. When I speak with executives around the world, they are singing the same song in two-part harmony: supply chain and people. Let’s talk a little about the people challenges that are keeping management up many nights. Even though we say there is a workforce problem, there is not just one problem. This obstacle is multifaceted.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Europe—Taking the Technical Lead on Transition to the Digital Factory

01-27-2022

As the president and CEO of a global trade association, John Mitchell pays close attention to how the electronics manufacturing industry is faring throughout the world. He recently spoke to Sanjay Huprikar, president, Europe and South Asia operations, and Matt Kelly, chief technologist, about the European manufacturing industry.

View Story
Back

2021

One World, One Industry: Better by Design—Bringing PCB Design Professionals Together

08-29-2021

To focus on the critical role design plays in the development of electronics, we created IPC Design to bring together printed board design professionals to connect with other designers, enjoy education and training opportunities, mentor and encourage the next generation of designer engineers, and above all, help advance the art and science of printed board design.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Responding to Questions about the Future of Electronics Manufacturing

06-16-2021

The questions I receive most frequently depend upon the individual or group asking the questions. For this column, I will focus on the different questions coming from the manufacturing industry and media.

View Story

One World, One Industry: New Thought Leaders Program Brings Industry Insight

05-20-2021

As the electronics industry undergoes dramatic change, it is essential for IPC to obtain advice and counsel from experts throughout the industry that help us navigate these changes. To this end, IPC created the Thought Leaders Program (TLP), a select group of experts who will generate ideas and insights.

View Story

One World, One Industry: How Familiar Are You with ESG?

04-22-2021

ESG is the new approach to corporate social responsibility, based on the notion that companies integrating ESG goals into their business decisions and operations are stronger by having accounted for concerns that create liabilities or risk. The financial services community is increasingly relying on ESG ratings and rankings to steer investments.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Join Us for IPC APEX EXPO—Virtually

02-08-2021

In person or online, our goal is to maintain IPC APEX EXPO’s position as the premier event for the electronics industry by providing far-reaching insights and ideas. The challenge we face to provide a premier networking event is also an opportunity for growth.

View Story
Back

2020

One World, One Industry: Expert Instructors Share Knowledge With the Next Generation

12-18-2020

You may be familiar with the IPC Electronics Workforce Training Initiative—an expanding series of education programs created to help the electronics industry overcome gaps in workforce skills—but do you know anything about the instructors who help develop and provide the training? Dr. John Mitchell details how IPC is fortunate to work with a team of subject-matter experts and instructors who share their significant knowledge and skills with the current and next generation of the electronics manufacturing workforce.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Navigating Around the Future

10-21-2020

Predicting the future is always dangerous. Happily, those predictions are rarely held to much scrutiny—perhaps because we all know that whatever is shared will, at least in some aspect, be wrong. IPC's Dr. John Mitchell dips his toe into the world of prognostication for a little bit, realizing that nothing is certain.

View Story

One World, One Industry: 3 Tools That Should Be in Your Leadership Toolbox

08-24-2020

There can be a lot of weight given to the abilities of the leader of an organization. IPC's Dr. John Mitchell shares three tools that should be in your leadership toolbox and a couple of themes to keep in mind.

View Story

One World, One Industry: A Lasting COVID-19 Lesson—Resilient Regional Manufacturing Networks

07-24-2020

Sophisticated global supply chains are generally efficient in meeting societal demands, but the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates that—in times of crisis—these supply chains can break down. IPC's Dr. John Mitchell emphasizes the need for resilient regional manufacturing networks across North America.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Problem Solving While Innovating

06-15-2020

There is a saying that true character is revealed by the choices we make under pressure, and this is certainly true of this very uncertain time. John Mitchell shares ways those in the electronics manufacturing industry are working together to find solutions.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Separating Hype From Reality—What’s Next for the Future of Electronics?

05-19-2020

Matt Kelly, a familiar face in IPC standards development and widely recognized in the global electronics industry as a thought leader and an innovator, was recently hired as IPC’s chief technologist. Dr. John Mitchell sat down with Matt to ask him about his new role, as well as industry trends.

View Story

One World, One Industry: The Future of the Electronics Industry

03-15-2020

When I speak to experts in the field, what strikes me most about our conversations is the accelerating pace of change and opportunity on so many fronts. This industry knows all about change. We are disruptors, and we are used to being disrupted ourselves. From smart factories to artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing, this industry will see its share of change in the coming years. IPC will be at the forefront of that change.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Three Workforce Lessons From Manufacturing Plants Around the World 

02-15-2020

During Dr. John Mitchell's latest international listening tour of manufacturing plants, he saw how workforce challenges in the U.S. extend globally. The good news is that, through shared experience, we can develop shared insights and solutions. John offers the conclusions he has drawn from meetings with operators and managers across the electronics industry about the current labor environment.

View Story

One World, One Industry: IPC APEX EXPO 2020—A Special Anniversary Year

02-03-2020

This year marks the 20th anniversary of IPC APEX EXPO, and IPC is thrilled to celebrate this event milestone with attendees, exhibitors, and presenters. Their dedication to and involvement in IPC APEX EXPO is directly responsible for its success, and their efforts clearly illustrate how the entire electronics manufacturing industry comes together to “Elevate the Excellence of Electronics”—this year’s theme.

View Story
Back

2019

One World, One Industry: Rising Tariffs Put a Painful Squeeze on Electronics Manufacturers

12-23-2019

IPC recognizes that you are greatly affected by the ongoing tariff dispute between China and the United States. To date, the two countries have imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in imports in a tit for tat that could escalate further if an agreement is not reached soon. Dr. John Mitchell discusses IPC's recent survey of U.S. members and the organization's perspective.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Opportunities Abound for Learning at IPC

11-13-2019

It’s fall, and students are heading back to school. Will you be joining them? IPC offers many opportunities for continuous learning, enabling you to enrich your career and increase your value to your company.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Maintaining a Strong Economy Through Workforce Development

09-25-2019

As members of the electronics industry, we work in a quickly evolving technological field illustrated by continual change and advancement. We must have a workforce that is ready to meet these advancements. We are firmly committed to providing growth and opportunities for American workers as we plan for a future where we don’t know what the jobs will be.

View Story

One World, One Industry: CFX and Hermes—Plug-and-Play IPC Standards Building Momentum for Industry 4.0

09-13-2019

IPC is removing barriers that hamper executives' ability to align their companies with Industry 4.0 by providing the building blocks for seamless machine-to-machine and machine-to-ERP communications. Released earlier this year. Two standards are released recently: the IPC-2591 (CFX), and the surface-mount equipment communication standard IPC-HERMES-9852, The Global Standard for Machine-to-Machine Communication in SMT Assembly.

View Story

Emerging Engineer Program: A Unique Opportunity Offered by IPC

07-05-2019

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is being able to offer new engineers a leg up early in their career, and I am especially thrilled when I can do it personally. Often, this can be as simple as connecting them with an industry leader. Wonderfully, this was something I was able to do IPC APEX EXPO this past January.

View Story
Back

2018

One World, One Industry: IPC Legislative Victories Reached with Outstanding Member and Industry Support

11-27-2018

After months of working with legislators in the United States to ensure our industry is well represented, I am pleased to say that we have been successful in our efforts—particularly concerning defense electronics and workforce education.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Back to School with IPC EDGE 2.0

11-05-2018

IPC spent the summer gearing up for new education and certification platforms, and has announced that IPC EDGE 2.0 is ready for all certification users. John Mitchell talked with David Hernandez, senior director of learning and professional development, and Kris Roberson, director of certification programs, to talk about what’s new in education and certification.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Meet Nicolas Robin, IPC’s New Senior Director in Europe

11-02-2018

In May, IPC Europe welcomed new Senior Director Nicolas Robin. Based in Brussels, Nicolas will represent IPC and the electronics manufacturing industry in Europe. I recently sat down with Nicolas for a one-to-one conversation to get to know him better and introduce him to fellow electronics industry members.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Automotive Electronics—Past / Present / Future

08-17-2018

As electronics play an increasingly important role in automotive manufacturing, tremendous change and great progress have been made worldwide. We are at the crossroads of incredible technological advancements, and it’s been exhilarating to watch. I am eager to see what happens next.

View Story

IMPACT 2018: We Need Your Voice in Washington, D.C.!

07-23-2018

It’s that time of year again: IPC’s IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2018 is on the horizon. As a global, industry-driven organization, IPC exists to help its member companies innovate, compete, and succeed in the electronics industry.

View Story

IPC Addresses Skills Gap

07-04-2018

A recent IPC global survey found that while the skills gap may vary depending on the job role and geographic location surveyed, many companies in the industry are struggling to find the talent they need, and the problem is expected to continue over the next decade.

View Story

One World, One Industry: IPC’s Job Task Analysis Committee Needs Your Expertise and Experience to Address the Skills Gap

06-25-2018

IPC is investing in the future by supporting our members’ workforce and training needs to meet the demands of a continually changing and advancing industry. With the creation of our Job Task Analysis Committee (JTA), we are collaborating with a group of industry subject matter experts tasked with the responsibility of defining a competency model for the electronics industry.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Meet IPC’s Vice President of Global Government Relations, Chris Mitchell

05-29-2018

In this new role, Chris will work closely with IPC’s Government Relations Steering Committee and its government relations team based in Washington, D.C. Chris will represent IPC and the electronics manufacturing industry before key policymakers globally and identify issues and other opportunities where IPC can demonstrate its leadership in government relations and public policy.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Skilled Talent—Can We Meet Rising Demand?

04-02-2018

In 2018, the U.S. GDP is expected to continue its rise, while unemployment rates are expected to drop further. Experts agree that the global economy is also showing signs of strengthening.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Electronics Industry Advocacy More Important than Ever

02-23-2018

From the Americas to Europe, Asia and beyond, the future of the electronics manufacturing industry is shaped in many ways by government policies. This will be true like never before in 2018, as legislators and regulators the world over are eyeing policy decisions on issues such as technology research and development, taxes, workforce skills, and the environment.

View Story
Back

2017

One World, One Industry: Connecting the Dots Between Manufacturing and Community

11-24-2017

Across the United States, the first Friday in October represents the annual celebration of Manufacturing Day. On this date, manufacturers and supporters come together to celebrate the longevity and success of our industry. Since 2012, Manufacturing Day has served as a chance to learn about the businesses that thrive in our communities and contribute greatly to the economy.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Pursuing New Solutions to the Electronics Sectors’ Skills Gap

11-15-2017

In a recent survey of our U.S. member companies[1], most said they have a hard time finding local talent to run their businesses. Respondents cited many essential skills that are in short supply, but the most common ones are soldering for production jobs, and engineers with industry experience, especially in process, test, and quality control. Making matters even more challenging, as new innovations emerge, new skills requirements emerge as well.

View Story

One World, One Industry: The Future of Electronics in the Automotive Industry

09-15-2017

Automotive electronics is not a new topic. While there is a trend for both performance and luxury electronics, many of the recent conversations tend to focus on self-driving/autonomous vehicles. While the technology is exciting, it is just the tip of the iceberg.

View Story

One World, One Industry: India Makes Manufacturing Gains to Participate in a Global Economy

08-18-2017

The manufacturing industry is truly a global one. While the past few decades have seen the rise of manufacturing in China and countries throughout Europe and South America, the last 10 years have been marked by significant progress in India. While the greater Asian area has flourished, India has been hampered by many factors including a struggling infrastructure.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Three Ways to Close the Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing

07-12-2017

The skills gap is a chronic problem in the manufacturing sector. Most manufacturing companies have a hard time aligning the talent needed to run their businesses with the talent that is available to work locally. And as new innovations emerge, new skills requirements emerge as well.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Having an Impact from the Shop Floor to the Halls of Government

07-07-2017

When you have concerns about government regulations and policies that impact your business, what can you do? Among several options, a direct approach is one of the best: Reach out to your elected officials and share your concerns. The odds are good that they will be responsive and look into ways of helping out a hometown business.

View Story

China—A Critical Partner for Trade

06-09-2017

Count me among those business leaders who thought the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was on the right track last year and would have brought significant benefits to all nations, including the United States. Before President Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP trade negotiations, I had argued it would have unified the world’s most dynamic economic region—bringing together developed and developing countries that collectively represent 825 million consumers and 40% of the world’s economic output.

View Story

One World, One Industry: 100 Days In—President Trump and a Better Manufacturing Policy

04-19-2017

To truly increase the number of American manufacturing jobs, President Trump should support increased investment in research and development for advanced manufacturing, promote and fund STEM education in primary and secondary schools, and build stronger apprenticeship programs. It is this type of investment—in human capital and technology—that will truly help make American manufacturing great again.

View Story

One World, One Industry: IPC’s Global Policy Framework for 2017—Smart Advocacy for the Industry

04-10-2017

As President Trump was being sworn in several weeks ago, and as the new Congress was getting down to work, IPC released its Global Policy Framework for 2017. As we work to represent more than 3,800 member facilities across the electronics industry’s global supply chain, IPC will adhere to this framework to guide our policy work in the coming months. All of our advocacy efforts are aimed at fostering an environment in which electronics manufacturers and their suppliers can thrive and grow.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Emerging Technology, Training for the Future, and the Next Industrial Revolution

02-13-2017

Technology isn’t just a tangible entity. It moves beyond what we can see, feel, and touch. It is ideas and theories. It includes philosophy and risks. In a way, technology itself is like the stock market. Different industries hedge their bets on emerging trends. These trends develop into useful products that change our world.

View Story
Back

2016

One World, One Industry: Strengthening Your Value Proposition to Boost Organization Success

12-16-2016

John Mitchell's new column's title says it all: One World, One Industry. In the coming columns, the IPC president will be covering issues affecting the entire global electronics industry supply chain with specific expertise on global standards, education, advocacy and solutions.

View Story

One World, One Industry: Six Leadership Lessons from 20 Years in the Electronics Industry

11-07-2016

The orchestra conductor is an apt metaphor for the successful leader. Effective leadership often boils down to the ability to inspire others (the symphony) to their best work, while keeping and driving the overall vision of the organization (the musical score).

View Story

One World, One Industry: Voting — A Civic Duty and Industry Opportunity

10-17-2016

On Tuesday, November 8, more than 240 million people in the United States will have the opportunity to go to the polls and vote, make their voices heard in government, and influence the direction of public policy for years to come. Much of the world is closely watching with interest in this major U.S. election.

View Story
Copyright © 2022 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.