The Gap Between Industry & Education
More than supplying the machines and equipment for manufacturing automation, FANUC helps customers solve problems. From small shops to large assembly operations, FANUC works with each customer to maximize productivity, reliability, and profitability.
One of the most common concerns FANUC heard from employers was difficulty in finding skilled workers. Once FANUC installed the robotic equipment, employers had trouble finding workers with the relevant skills and knowledge to operate it. To help solve this challenge, FANUC started an educational program in 2010. They wanted to work directly within the educational system to bring training development closer to employers.
However, before they could begin bridging the gap between industry-relevant skills and education, FANUC needed a way to validate that the instructional programs would bring about the right results. FANUC quickly realized their internal training assessments would not be enough. Creating a pipeline of skilled workers would require a third-party to develop a competency-based credential to validate the technical skills specific to FANUC’s technology.
The Search for a Credentialing Partner
FANUC had specific requirements for their desired credential. They needed a robust, competency-based credential developed by a third party that would meet ISO standards, align with certification requirements from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education, and be legally defensible. FANUC wanted to have complete confidence that any individual who earned their certification would have the skills and knowledge relevant to the industry.
These requirements are what led FANUC to begin working with Nocti Business Solutions (NBS) in 2016. As a nationally-recognized credentialing body, NBS is known for developing valid, reliable, and legally defensible technical assessments.
Developing Valid & Reliable Credentials
Together, NBS and FANUC developed multiple, stackable certification levels for FANUC’s robotics and automation technology.
Operator Level focuses on the basics of the technology.
Technical Level focuses on how FANUC’s robots work together within a system.
Integrated Systems Specialist (New) focuses on the advanced skills currently in high demand. This certification is for someone who understands how the various systems work together and knows how to operate, maintain, and troubleshoot a system.
Each level has an Industry and Academic version of the assessment. While both focus on essential occupational skills for robotic operation, the academic version includes more applications within Industry 4.0. NBS and FANUC also provide customer-specific assessments for manufacturers looking to certify new and incumbent workers.
Filling the Pipeline of Skilled Workers
Equipped with valid and reliable credentials, FANUC continues to address the manufacturing skills gap on two fronts.
Through academic partnerships, FANUC creates learning opportunities for students to experience manufacturing related to robotics and automation. FANUC provides real, industrial robots for use within the classroom, helping students learn the skills required for certification. FANUC also has an “Externship” program for teachers during the summer months. Teachers complete a training program and job-shadowing within FANUC. Teachers return to the classroom with a better understanding of the industry and its applications that they can share with students.
FANUC also works to upskill or reskill incumbent workers and job seekers. They help employers equipping current workers with the skills for new, high-demand positions in advanced manufacturing and robotics. FANUC works with several community programs, providing job seekers with viable skills to succeed in a rewarding industry. These include programs for the unemployed, transition assistance programs for military personnel, and programs for returning (formerly incarcerated) citizens.
Advice for Manufacturers On Closing Their Skills Gap
The skills gap continues to present challenges for manufacturers. COVID-related disruptions have exposed some notable vulnerabilities within the U.S. supply chain. The already significant skills gap will likely grow as these manufacturers look to shore up and expand operations in the U.S.
Paul Aiello, Executive Director of Education at FANUC America, advises those looking to close skills gaps to proactively build relationships within your community to begin filling the pipeline of skilled workers.
“Engage with local schools,” advises Paul, “Do they know what you do and how you do it? Offer tours and open your doors so students can see what a potential career looks like. Inspire the next generation of innovators to enter your industry.”
Solving Workforce Challenges, Together
FANUC and Nocti Business Solutions are both committed to solving workforce challenges for their customers.
“To me, that’s what this is all about,” says Paul Aiello, “We’re solving problems for employers and helping them build a workforce with the skills they need to expand their business. Our educational programs are connecting students to rewarding careers, and we are helping schools deliver courses that align with industry standards. We couldn’t do any of this without NBS and the relationship we have with them.”
At NBS, we are grateful for the experience and insight FANUC brings to our organization. Through our shared expertise, we are better able to equip tomorrow’s innovators with the skills for success within advanced automation and robotics.