Guest post by Matt Gudgel of SourceOne who responded to our post about NPR’s story about the lack of people with math skills needed in manufacturing.
SourceOne feels so strongly about skilled workforce, it is included as part of their mission statement: To maintain a vibrant, skilled and dedicated work force…to use our diverse capabilities to meet challenges…and facilitate growth.

Maintaining a skilled workforce is part of the company mission. Why?  To meet challenges and facilitate growth.

Matt’s response to our post  decried the fact that “we spend too much time teaching our employees to ‘use the tools of the trade’ rather than ‘the tool five inches between the ears-‘ the ultimate tool we’re born with and have forgotten how to use.”

This is what we are really looking for…

In other words we just take it for granted that people know how to think, how to frame the problem, and to know when to use the ‘tools of the trade.’

Matt says that the challenges to manage this issue  are difficult.

  • Changing thinking from “any warm body will do” to hiring quality is one challenge we face as we continue to be squeezed on price by our customers.
  • Finding time to train people  in the face of hard deadlines for our production is another.
  • Growing people into ‘general specialists’ who can handle not just machining but also have practical knowledge of electrical and pneumatic systemsis a need, not just a want.

One challenge though,  is incumbent on our people, it is not just up to management.

“We want our employees to be well trained, and it is our responsibility to help them get trained. But employees need to step up too and master the skills.”

When looking at employees, here is Matt’s advice- “They have to fit our culture, just as much as they need to fit the position in our company. Economic competition means we need to find the right people.”

As the NPR story mentioned about basic math, (adding subtracting and dividing decimals as a lost ability among job candidates!) and as Matt Gudgel pointed out:

Finding the ‘right people’ means ” finding people who are effective at using the ultimate tool we’re born with and have forgotten how to use- the tool five inches between the ears.”