Is the skills gap the only thing hindering the development of the Additive Manufacturing Industry?
In this 3-part series, we highlight the key factors which are slowing down the progress of the Additive Manufacturing industry, and how you can adapt your attraction and retention processes to be successful.
Part 1 – The root cause
If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the hurdles the Additive Manufacturing industry faces. Cost. Speed. Repeatability. Part Quality. Supplying parts to highly regulated industries. Providing an ISO for the AM world. They’re talked about at every conference, on the majority of our calls, and in every strategy meeting without fail.
There are still problems to solve and certain realities to acknowledge. This technology has the potential to change a great many things we take for granted today. It provides us with the ability to design, innovate and approach manufacturing in ways that were previously inconceivable. However, each of these ideas and concepts can only become reality once one key factor is addressed, because until this part is done well, the other elements (and thus the industry as a whole) cannot progress.
It all starts with the people
Disclaimer – We’re not here to tell you we have the answer. We prefer to use real life examples to advise on how, in our opinion, your company and the industry as a whole, can overcome these obstacles to success.
John Barnes from The Barnes Group Advisors has a line in his conference talks which accentuates this point. He says, “If we all use the same machines and the same materials, what are we competing on? Engaged people are the difference between good and great.”
In any environment, from being part of a regiment, to being part of a recruitment team, to a being part of a global technology corporation, the people in those teams are what determines success or failure, from the CEO all the way to the intern. No amount of machines, venture capital, company acquisitions or press releases will determine whether or not a company succeeds, unless the right people are in place and can work collectively to drive the technology, the research, the products, and the strategy. Vince Lombardi said that, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilisation work.”
You may have heard yourself say, “yeah that sounds great, but where are we going to find somebody with the kind of experience we need?” and you may have even said to a recruiter, “We know the kind of individual we need for this position doesn’t exist. Additive manufacturing experience would be a nice-to-have, but it’s not essential” Our response would be, “Why not?”
One thing that’s really important to remember here is that you’re not alone. This is a problem faced by the entire Additive Manufacturing industry.
We work in one of the most technologically advanced industries in the world, where we try new things, fail fast, adapt, and drive ourselves towards repeatable, scalable solutions; be it a digital factory, or central heating controlled from your phone. So, in this environment of innovation, shouldn’t we consider adopting innovative approaches to hiring and retaining talent.
Conversely, the vast majority of companies we engage with in the early stages of developing their AM strategy are still using the same methods of attraction that they’ve always used for more conventional disciplines. Again, we’re not saying it’s wrong, but our experience has taught us that companies who understand that the process needs to adapt, are the ones who are driving forward and attracting the best talent into their AM divisions.
It’s correct to say that there isn’t an over-abundance of real talent in this market, but that absolutely does not mean that the people you need don’t exist, and can’t be tempted to move for the right challenge. If anything, there are more excellent, valuable, experienced people looking to move now than ever before in the AM industry. The question is, how are you going to attract them to your business more effectively than your competitor attracts them to theirs? Why is somebody going to work for you versus your competitor? It’s by no means a straightforward process for candidates or clients, so it’s important to take the time to answer those questions because you can be sure that the top talent in the industry want to work for a company that is serious about AM, and is driving towards a goal they can truly believe in.