Research from Search Consultancy has shown that manufacturing is more affected by the skills shortage than any other industry — with 85% of businesses feeling the strain from a lack of skilled workers. It’s facilities such as the Sandvik Coromant Centers that aim to make a difference and provide specialised training for engineers worldwide. However, the pandemic put the brakes on consistent training for many, and industry is now forced to catch up. Here, Daniel Strandell, global manager of the Sandvik Coromant Centers discusses how Sandvik Coromant is helping to upskill workers.
Sandvik Coromant has a global footprint of Sandvik Coromant Centers located around the world, which are dedicated to training customers on core metalworking skills and showcasing the organization’s state-of-the-art machining technologies. At the centers, customers can participate in lectures, presentations and production environment demonstrations that showcase Sandvik Coromant’s products and machining techniques. The company was the first in the cutting tool industry to introduce application centers and, currently, there are Sandvik Coromant Centers located across Europe, the Americas and Asia.
However, during the pandemic, COVID-19 restrictions forced many manufacturing facilities to close their doors to the wider public and site visits ground to a halt. As a consequence, engineers across the industry have missed out on over 18 months of vital training and education. So how do we plug the gap?
The skills gap has been a concern for many years, but for many industrial businesses, the pandemic has heightened its prevalence. In fact, 58% of respondents of a recent McKinsey survey said that closing skills gaps in their companies’ workforces has become an even higher priority post-pandemic.
Facilities such as the Sandvik Coromant Centres are crucial in providing engineers with in-depth practical training that businesses can then use in their own operations. However, while the centers were closed for visitors, Sandvik Coromant made sure to support its customers as much as possible. The only way to stay in contact was to go online, and the company maintained contact through webinar series, product-specific training sessions and live product demonstrations streamed over video conference.
For example, virtual sessions included a series of monthly solid round tool knowledge sessions that began in January 2021.The online sessions cover critical areas of metal cutting from drilling and milling, to more specific areas such as machining aluminum for automotive components and machining composite materials, all with the aim of delivering core application knowledge to those who lack training capabilities in-house.
It’s evident that businesses are taking the skills gap more seriously than ever before. Many have begun to invest in training of some description, with reskilling and upskilling high on the agenda. However, only so much can be achieved in the virtual world. Businesses, especially in manufacturing, need to bring people together in order to upskill. And they shouldn’t just be focusing on their current workforce.
Bridging the gap
Sandvik Coromant has worked with many customers who explain that the skills gap is one of the key reasons for wanting to invest in training. Further research from Search Consultancy into the skills gap found that 40% of participants believe that the lack of qualified candidates is the main contributing factor to the skills shortage.
While investing in the skills of the existing workforce is vital, industry must also look towards the next generation of engineers. A 2020 report by EngineeringUK found that that almost 50% of eleven to 19-year-olds know ‘little’ or ‘almost nothing’ about what engineers do. Besides this, the pandemic has also impacted when people start their careers, as BAE Systems found that more than 40% of young people aged 16-24 surveyed in the UK are putting their career plans on hold until the pandemic is over.
To support future engineers, Sandvik Coromant actively works with schools and universities to educate students on core metal cutting technologies. For instance, the company has worked with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to produce parts for race cars for a student competition. As part of the collaboration, Sandvik Coromant advised on the appropriate tool choices for the aerospace-grade aluminum components of the race car, as well as on appropriate machining techniques and general advice for material removal. Sandvik Coromant also provides several education programmes, where students can work at the organization for two weeks, or for six months, after they finish school.
While online resources provide a sufficient stopgap, facilities such as the Sandvik Coromant Centers immerse visitors into a real-life production environment, providing a highly valued method of training. Looking back at how the last 18 months has impacted engineering skills, it’s clear the skills gap has been made wider. As we look towards the future,
offering a blend of virtual and in-person training to both budding and established engineers will prove key to creating a skilled workforce.
To find your nearest Sandvik Coromant Center, visit www.sandvik.coromant.com/sandvik-coromant-center/