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The focus is referring to the rapid and significant changes occurring within the industry driven by technological advancements, shifting demographics, and evolving market demands. 

This disruption is impacting how manufacturers operate, innovate, and remain competitive. 

Here are important key factors contributing to the acceleration of generational disruption in Manufacturing.

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Learn, Un-learn and Re-learn.

You always hear the saying – It takes a Village to raise a child!” – Well, in this case, it will take many institutions, open minded Leaders, SME’s and organisations like MESA Africa and SAIMC who offer Knowledge Sharing 4 Industry events and Technical Training as part of their education and resource development strategies. 

Not forgetting all important, further Education, Bursaries, Universities, Practical Hands-on experience, TVET, Internships, Mentorship, Cohorts, International Exchanges, Opportunities, Project Leads, Partnering opportunities and Strategic Alliances in Industry!

Why is it important to invest in the development of young minds? Simple really! If want to preserve knowledge, then we need to embrace Innovate, Solution Focussed clear Minds, with Fresh Thinking that Challenges everything we became comfortable with over the years. 

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How can you accelerate generational disruption successfully?

  • Embrace digital transformation and invest in cutting-edge technologies.
  • Foster a culture of innovation and adaptability within their organizations.
  • Invest in workforce development and knowledge transfer programs.
  • Stay attuned to market trends and customer preferences.
  • Continuously evaluate and optimize their supply chain strategies.
  • Monitor and comply with evolving regulations.
  • Succession Planning made as a priority, not a nice to have. 
  • Reverse Mentoring by valuing the experience already in the industry and creating an environment that acknowledges their input, whilst helping the younger generation to thrive and equally share their own insights and expertise.
Challenges young people have Entering the Manufacturing Industry

  • Skills gap.
  • Experience
  • Reverse mentoring
  • Succession Planning
  • Street Skills 
  • Soft Skills Training
  • Diversity and Inclusion lacking in Industry.
  • Peer enabled exposure
  • Specialised Degrees needed to enter the Automation, Machine learning, Blockchain, AI expertise. 
  • Technical, Virtual and Physical Training to gain experience. 
  • Stress from Lack of understanding of Finances and Budgeting for Personal Growth and Life Choices
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ESG factors emphasize sustainability and responsible environmental practices.

Younger generations are often more environmentally conscious and demand eco-friendly manufacturing processes and products. 

Prioritising ESG principles can meet the expectations of younger consumers and talent pools, making them more attractive as employers and business partners.

They often seek purpose-driven work and are more likely to be attracted to organizations with strong ESG commitments.

Manufacturing companies that prioritize ESG factors can use this as a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining talent, especially in an industry facing a demographic shift.

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With the influx of technology, there is a growing need for upskilling and reskilling the workforce.
Assess Current Skills and Identify Gaps:

Start by conducting a thorough assessment of the current workforce's skills and competencies.

✔ Identify gaps between existing skills and the skills required to operate and maintain advanced machinery and technology.

Curriculum Development:  Develop a structured curriculum that covers the specific skills and knowledge needed for advanced machinery and technology.

✔ Collaborate with subject matter experts (SMEs) to ensure the curriculum is up-to-date and relevant.

Set Clear Objectives: 

✔ Define specific training objectives and goals. Determine the skills and knowledge that employees need to acquire. Establish measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress and success.

Create a Training Strategy:

✔ Develop a comprehensive training strategy that aligns with the company's overall business goals.

✔ Determine the appropriate training methods, including classroom training, online courses, on-the-job training, workshops, and mentorship programs.

✔ Consider a blended learning approach that combines different training modalities for maximum effectiveness.

Invest in Training Resources:

✔ Allocate budget and resources for training programs. Consider the cost of training materials, instructors, technology, and facilities.

✔ Explore government grants or incentives for workforce development and training.

Curriculum Development:

✔ Develop a structured curriculum that covers the specific skills and.

✔ knowledge needed for advanced machinery and technology.

✔ Collaborate with subject matter experts (SMEs) to ensure the curriculum is up-to-date and relevant.

Engage Employees:

✔ Involve employees in the training process by seeking their input and feedback.

✔ Communicate the importance of upskilling and reskilling to employees. Highlight the benefits, including career growth opportunities and job security.

Implement Training Programs:

✔ Deliver training programs in a phased approach, considering the different skill levels and roles within the organization.

✔ Monitor progress and adjust the training schedule as needed.

Direct Training:

✔ Provide firsthand training experiences whenever possible. Allow employees to practice using advanced machinery under supervision.

Digital Transformation: Embracing digital technologies, including IoT, AI, and cloud computing, to streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and enable data-driven decision-making.

Industry 4.0 Adoption: Implementing Industry 4.0 principles to create smart factories, optimize supply chains, and leverage cyber-physical systems for improved agility and responsiveness.

Advanced Analytics: Utilizing data analytics and predictive maintenance to optimize machinery and equipment performance, reducing downtime, and enhancing productivity.

Robotics and Automation: Deploying robotics and automation to manage repetitive tasks, increase production speed, and improve precision while upskilling the workforce to manage these technologies.

3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing: Embracing additive manufacturing techniques to enable rapid prototyping, reduce waste, and customize products for changing consumer demands.

Supply Chain Resilience: Focusing on building more resilient and flexible supply chains by incorporating local sourcing, redundancy, and digital tools for real-time monitoring.

Sustainability Initiatives: Implementing sustainable manufacturing practices, including eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient processes, and waste reduction to meet consumer and regulatory demands.

Talent Development: Investing in workforce development and training programs to upskill employees, bridge generational gaps, and prepare the workforce for advanced technologies.

Collaborative Ecosystems: Building partnerships and collaborations with startups, research institutions, and other organizations to access innovation, share best practices, and stay competitive.

Customer-Centric Approach: Shifting towards a customer-centric model by using data to understand consumer preferences and create customizable, on-demand manufacturing solutions.e.

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Incorporating these key elements into their management approach, leaders in the manufacturing industry can effectively navigate generational disruption, harness the strengths of each generation, and create a forward-looking workforce.
Recognition and Feedback:

  • Recognize and reward employees of all generations for their contributions and achievements.
  • Encourage open feedback and two-way communication to address concerns and ideas from all levels.

Career Development Paths:

  • Create clear and flexible career development paths that accommodate the aspirations and goals of employees at various stages of their careers.
  • Offer opportunities for advancement and growth within the organization.

Mental Health and Well-Being Support:

  • Promote employee well-being by offering mental health resources and support.
  • Address the unique challenges and stressors that different generations may face.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): 

  • Establish employee resource groups or affinity groups that focus on generational issues and opportunities for networking and support.

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Succession Planning:

  • Develop a robust succession planning strategy to ensure a smooth transition of leadership roles as older generations retire.
  • Identify and nurture potential leaders from all age groups.

Data-Driven Decision-Making:

  • Use data analytics to gain insights into workforce demographics, performance, and engagement across generations.
  • Make informed decisions based on data to address generational dynamics.

Cultural Sensitivity Training:

  • Conduct training sessions that raise awareness of cultural differences and generational perspectives.
  • Encourage empathy and understanding among employees.

Adaptive Leadership:

  • Practice adaptive leadership by being responsive to changing circumstances and the evolving needs of the workforce.
  • Demonstrate the ability to pivot and adjust strategies, as necessary.

Innovation Initiatives:

  • Promote innovation by creating a culture that values creativity and encourages employees of all generations to contribute ideas and solutions.
  • Implement innovation programs that involve cross-generational teams.

In conclusion, the manufacturing is currently in a transformative era, driven by unprecedented technological advancements, shifting demographics and young leaders needing clearer Leadership plans and strategies that includes their personal development. 

To engage with and understand generational disruption, it is imperative to embrace a mindset of continuous learning and adaptation. Collaboration among institutions, leaders, and organizations is crucial in creating a culture of innovation and knowledge sharing. 

Investing in the development of young minds through education, internships, and mentorship will ensure a steady influx of fresh, solution-focused thinkers ready to challenge the status quo. And by prioritizing digital transformation, workforce development, and strategic planning, manufacturers can not only remain competitive but also lead the charge in shaping the future of the industry. Let us seize this opportunity to innovate, grow, and thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Author - Arthie Moore-Robberts (Dr.S) 

Founder : Ki Leadership Institute Pty Ltd and Celebrating Humanity International Pty Ltd. https://www.kileadership.com