Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Diversity and Inclusion in Manufacturing - AUTOMATIONWORLD

by Stephanie Neil 
Originally published: March 28, 2016
Publisher: Automationworld.com 

When addressing the skills gap, companies need to look beyond STEM development and start building an entirely new corporate culture.

It’s always interesting to hear chatter about how automation is going to endanger our workforce. Will the robots take over the factory floor? Yes, probably, in some aspect. But honestly, technology advances and machines have been taking our jobs for a very long time. All it means is that we, the people, have to evolve to build new skills and expertise. So it is not the automation we need to worry about. It’s us.

We have an enormous problem in manufacturing in the form of a skills shortage—from operators to engineers. We need to be preparing the next generation of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals. It goes beyond just setting policies, but finding creative ways to engage young minds and direct them toward a rewarding career in modern manufacturing.

Furthermore, we as an industry need to do our part to attract more women, minorities and Millennials to the manufacturing workforce. That requires a shift in attitude and an overhaul to the current corporate culture in order to make it more diversified and inclusive.

This is a topic we will address at The Automation Conference in May. And, it was a topic of discussion at the National Society of Black Engineers annual conference in Boston last week. Here, Dr. Peggie Ward Koon, the 2014 president of the International Society of Automation (ISA) and 2015 chair of The Automation Federation, presented on the significance of a diverse and inclusive workforce to drive corporate innovation.

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