Skills development programme helps next generation secure employment

GKN Driveline Alamance teaches manufacturing concepts and operational skills to youth in the region.

Throughout the US, an ageing workforce and the acceleration of technological change threatens to broaden the skills gap in manufacturing. At the GKN Driveline Alamance plant, around 60% of the machine operator workforce will be eligible for retirement within the next five years.

The issue comes into sharper focus when considering how much manufacturing work has changed in recent years. More streamlined production lines and increasingly automated processes actually demand more skilled workers, such as maintenance engineers.

The changing nature of work is consistent across industries and companies of all sizes and can make it difficult for workers to keep up with employment demands. Research in this field indicates that the key requirement is for employees with better problem-solving skills and better basic technical training.

Plant Training and Development Manager at Alamance, Dr Mak Kishun, and her team of training coordinators – Jorge Ayala, Kenneth Maynard, Linda Royster and Jason Kimbro – have partnered with Caswell County Schools’ Career and Technical Education (CTE) department.

Together they have developed a scheme to introduce students enrolled in the CTE Programme to the field of Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management, and to introduce the foundational skills needed to begin a career in machine operations and/or manufacturing leadership.

The North Carolina Legacy Project, developed and managed by Dr Kishun, provides machine operator training via virtual reality, game-based learning simulations and online modules to existing GKN Automotive employees. Manufacturing employees training at Alamance Community College and high school students from Caswell County Schools also benefit from the programme addressing the skilled labour challenges.