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SMMs: How Can We Help Your Workforce Leverage Process and Tech Innovation?

September 30, 2020

By Henry Cialone
President & CEO, EWI

For the last several years, we’ve been asking questions and getting answers — which has led to even more questions. So now, we’re looking for more answers. Let me explain.

In a February post, I talked about the significant challenges rapidly evolving technology poses — especially for small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs). I also described Shift, a program designed to help SMMs think through these challenges. As a first step in the program, the SMM completes a business assessment that evaluates their key risks and capacity for innovation. Through this business assessment, we ask questions. And we get answers.

Since Shift’s 2017 launch, we’ve surveyed almost 100 SMMs on the topics of strategy, technology, and business performance. And we’ve found that SMMs consistently rank process and technology innovation as their #1 area with the greatest room for improvement. A follow-up question that asks about the biggest barriers to technology adoption reveals, most significantly, that SMMs struggle with the gap between their existing workforce and the skills required to leverage process and technology innovations.

At EWI, we understand. I spoke to the issue, in part, in a late 2019 post — and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had launched several new training initiatives to help bridge the gap.

With the advent of the pandemic, however, most of our efforts had to be shelved. We’ve had to re-examine, re-think, and re-imagine our training offerings, asking: What training can and should we provide, and how do we best provide it in this new environment?…

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