Blog | | by Andreza

Shortage of skilled workers in sheet metal industry

Why recruiting is not (always) the solution for a vacancy

This statement sounds contradictory and should not be made by an HR professional? Not necessarily. Because the company's goals guide HR's actions and not the other way around.

A vacancy is basically caused by the lack of work performance in connection with the competencies in the respective area of expertise. Recruiting aims to serve both aspects. In the best case, even before the employee leaves the company. Simple in principle and the ideal approach.

In fact, filling vacancies is a lengthy process due to the shortage of skilled workers. In the field of engineers, vacancy times of up to 135 days have been reported (Source: Arbeitsagentur). Most strategies to counteract this shortage of skilled personnel are classically located in HR and include the expansion of employer branding, including increasing employer attractiveness, and recruiting. In order to be successful in recruiting in the employee market and to compensate for the lack of candidates, the requirements are made more flexible. In some cases, we use profiles that do not meet the required qualifications or expand recruiting to other national (remote) and international markets.

Meanwhile, the shortage of skilled workers continues to worsen: The Association of German Engineers (VDI) is talking about a bottleneck ratio in Q1 2019 of 414 vacancies per 100 unemployed (Source: VDI). The figures fluctuate depending on graduations and any crises.

But the trend remains: there are more vacancies than workers. How can recruiting be the only solution under these conditions?

A holistic, entrepreneurial approach is required

Sheet metal production, for example, is already pursuing Industry 4.0 as a way to make manufacturing processes more efficient with the help of digitization. While robotics and tools automate work processes, the fully automated networking of all production processes promises smooth manufacturing. Another side effect of the pure increase in capacity is a long-term reduction in production costs despite high investments.

Fig.: Smart Production (Source: TRUMPF Group)

Intervention is being made in the direct 'production' value creation process to counteract the shortage of skilled workers in the form of capacity and intelligent automation. However, the required competencies and skills are disregarded.

From this point on, a pure HR or Industry 4.0 solution fails. It requires strategies that already start at preliminary stages of production - for example, in development.

Digitization of expert know-how instead of bottleneck development

If you look at the entire value chain, digitization holds further potential. Expertise comes from practical experience, not theory. Especially in sheet metal processing, specifications such as laser cutting, forming, bending, etc. are considered valuable, acquired know-how of a specialist.

In order to address this competence and profound value-added process, innovative solutions are required in addition to the promotion of young talent. The Optimate App can be one possibility for this bottleneck to compensate for missing sheet metal design knowledge. The software combines decades of sheet metal know-how from TRUMPF, state-of-the-art AI and algorithms to support the design experts with optimized parts - even before they go into production. In addition to automation, the software also adds value in terms of content. The know-how continues to be secured internally.

HR as a companion to digital transformation

How can HR now provide support? The role of HR is increasingly changing into a companion and enabler in the digital transformation. Transformations harbor uncertainties for the workforce and there is a need for openness. We need to support organizations in proactively engaging with and leveraging technological trends. To see digitization as an opportunity and less as a risk. Because digitization does not mean streamlining - because every skilled worker is an important but limited resource.

Written by

Andreza Brilhante

HR / People Growth Manager

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