Over the past several months, many industries in the U.S., including the transportation and supply chain sectors, have been facing labor shortages. Among the many reasons for these shortages is an education gap for new recruits. At the same time, technology is changing so rapidly that current workers are at risk of falling behind. Education and training are more crucial than ever, especially in a post-pandemic world that is increasingly reliant on technology.
On the recruiting side, trade schools are ramping up efforts to attract students to certain programs. In Alabama, one community college is offering an apprenticeship program for diesel technicians that allows students to earn money while taking classes. The classes are held online and can be taken anywhere, while competency tests are held on campus at students’ convenience. This allows them to gain work experience through their paid apprenticeships while earning their associate’s degrees.
The program also recently integrated virtual reality into their program, which helps to further enhance what students learn in the classroom. They’re not the first to use VR as a training tool. Some lift truck companies have also used VR as a way to train technicians safely. VR is useful for new technicians as well as correcting bad habits of existing employees.
Many companies are also investing in reskilling and upskilling their current employees to fill their changing needs. Digital tools are a growing part of the supply chain industry, particularly in distribution centers, where companies like Amazon utilize automation heavily. Companies with a talented and loyal workforce will save on hiring expenses by training workers they already have. However, reskilling does come with its own monetary and time costs. To find balance, many companies are adopting a hybrid model of hiring and reskilling to maintain a skilled staff that can keep up with technological changes.
Technical skills are not the only way to upskill employees. Non-technical or “soft” skills are becoming more important than ever in a post-pandemic landscape. Leadership, accountability, creativity and teamwork bring value to a company at any level. At Millwood, our team members receive weekly leadership training. Team members also have access to resources to further their own education independently.
“Training and education are important to Millwood because we want everyone to continue to develop into the very best version of themselves,” Debora Chizmar, Millwood’s director of corporate development said.
Education, whether technical or not, is an ongoing effort for team members, no matter the department they’re in.
“Millwood’s owners know that change and improvement are slow and steady, and learning and development never ends,” Debora said. “It’s a personal and lifelong journey.”
Whether they are hiring, upskilling or retraining, companies in the supply chain industry will need to prioritize education to keep their employees up to date with the needed skills of the future.