Worker skills a key challenge for employers

Vimal Kapur, president of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS), said that understanding the new skill set joining the workforce is the top challenge facing the manufacturing industry moving forward and it is not going away.
By Gregory Hale, ISSSource July 27, 2016

While acknowledging cybersecurity is a major concern moving forward, understanding the new skill set joining the workforce is the top challenge facing the industry moving forward.

"Cybersecurity is a technical problem and we will solve technical problems, but it may take a while," said Vimal Kapur, president of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) during his Wednesday keynote at the 2016 Honeywell Users Group Americas conference in San Antonio, Tex. "The problem we have now is all about skills. The real challenge is how to track people."

Kapur admitted that security is a big problem and a daunting challenge, but it will end up solved over a matter of time. He equated the security issue to safety, where there was a problem, but they were able to solve it for the most part.

However, understanding and working with a new skill set hitting the workforce is a huge issue, Kapur said.

The younger workforce is becoming a larger influence in the workplace and that means we all have to adopt and adapt to new methodologies. By 2025, millennials will be 75% of the workforce, he said.

Meanwhile the aging workforce today, those described as having more than 20 years in the industry, was at 29% in 2010 and was at 14% in 2014, Kapur said.

Vimal Kapur, president of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS), talked about how the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will help manufacturers gather and analyze a broader range of data across multiple plants and operations more efficiently at the 41st anIn an industry that does not adapt to change very well, it will have to also handle a newer generation that operates much differently:

  • Sixty-five percent end up held back by outdated and rigid work styles
  • Forty-one percent prefer to communicate electronically
  • 2 years is the average company tenure.

There are quite a few benefits with a younger workforce coming into the industry. One of the benefits is the newer generation adopts new technology much quicker.

Along those lines, while it takes up to two years to get a worker to become productive, that will have to change. In keeping with the trend of workers leaving an employer after two years, the ramp time to becoming more productive needs to reduce down to 6 months from 2 years.

"Competency development is a big challenge for us," Kapur said.

Gregory Hale is the editor and founder of Industrial Safety and Security Source (, a news and information Website covering safety and security issues in the manufacturing automation sector. This content originally appeared on Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, Control

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