An essential backbone of manufacturing SMEs are production employees who are proficient in the applications and have the relevant experience. These employees are crucial for the innovation and competitiveness of the company. In order to keep pace with the many changes and transformation processes in the competitive environment and to fully exploit the innovative capacity of the company, it is important to promote and permanently develop the competences of the employees in production. This can be implemented in a focused manner with strategic competence management.

New challenges – new competence requirements

Major changes are taking place in the world of work – many jobs in production are becoming increasingly technologised and influenced by AI. New production processes and technologies are being added and organisational structures are changing. As a result, more technical skills are required of employees today than in the past. In the manufacturing sector, even more highly qualified personnel are needed. Robotics, digitalisation, AI: processes in industry are becoming more complex, people, machines and processes are increasingly digitally networked and other skills are needed today and in the future to produce with these systems and ensure stable processes. In addition to an increasing number of regular compulsory training courses on processes, occupational health and safety or new guidelines, such as data protection, new skills in the use of digital tools, software and data analysis are important. The success of the company also depends on how the competences of the employees develop with the new challenges.

Through further training and qualification, employees can be specifically developed from one position to another for the new competence requirements and adapt to the changes in the working world through re-skilling and upskilling. But which new competences in which positions are specifically needed in one’s own company today and in the future? Professional competence management identifies the strengths of employees and promotes them in a targeted manner. Strategic competence management in production is about developing the competences of employees in such a way that they are enabled to apply their skills and knowledge to their tasks in the work environment in a way that is appropriate to the situation and to solve problems.

Re- and upskilling of industrial employees

Certain industries, such as mechanical engineering or the automotive sector, are particularly affected by the transformation. In order to secure competitiveness in the long term, the first step is to define which competence requirements and needs the company has – today and in the future. The next step is to check which competences the employees have, where there are gaps or where gaps could arise. The competence profiles result from the current tasks of the employees and from the predicted changes in their areas of activity and responsibility. For example, if a car manufacturer changes its production from combustion vehicles to electric cars, new competence profiles are required from the production employees, such as knowledge of battery systems, electric drives and control electronics, or they must understand the different types of batteries, as well as their charging and discharging behaviour and know about safety aspects and maintenance requirements. In this example, these are only a few of the many competence requirements that must be taken into account in competence management.

Challenges in competence management

In production, training employees and implementing competence management is a particular challenge, as the necessary infrastructure is often lacking. Employees in production often have no terminal devices or e-mail addresses, and digital competences must first be built up. Here, stand-alone PCs or shared tablets can be used to set up a good infrastructure for competence management.

Another point that should be taken into account:  Man is known to be a “creature of habit”. As in other industries, planned changes in production, for example in work processes, often meet with resistance from employees. In order to promote the adaptability, acceptance and proactivity of the employees and to be able to successfully implement competence management, the company management plays a central role. The management style and the corporate culture set the course for a positive attitude of the employees towards change.

To avoid excessive demands, it is essential that the tasks are tailored to the competences and strengths of the employee and the new work roles – job sharing can also be a sensible solution in one area or another. The right tools for implementing competence management are also very important in order to provide individually appropriate and motivating learning content and to consistently achieve the set goals.

What are the necessary competence profiles of the future?

Competence management should be oriented to the needs of employees on the one hand and to company goals on the other. Competence management in production is about identifying, documenting and managing the skills, qualifications and experience of employees in industrial occupations and production.

  1. identify skills: Many SME manufacturing companies do not have transparency on what skills they currently have on board. For this purpose, an inventory analysis will be made. Interviews, tests or observations give a good overview of the skills and personal experiences of the employees.
  2. create competence profiles: The results of the inventory and all relevant information such as certificates, training or skills are bundled in individual competence profiles and documented in digital databases.
  3. Needs analysis: What skills and qualifications does the company need today and in the future? What gaps are there – in which areas should targeted training and further education be offered?
  4. personnel planning: on the basis of the competence profiles, it becomes transparent which employees are suitable for which projects and tasks, and the deployment and development of employees is planned accordingly.
  5. development paths: through professional competence management, careers can be planned transparently and competences can be developed in a targeted manner. Development paths show employees how they can develop further within the company, which additional skills they need for which individual goals or which skills can be deepened.

Professional competence management is an important tool for companies in commercial and production-oriented sectors to motivate their employees to continue their education, to manage work resources effectively and to develop them in a targeted manner. THE MAK`ED TEAM has many years of experience in developing competence management systems that are individually adapted to the requirements of our clients. We develop solutions for medium-sized production companies so that competences in production can be developed effectively and in a focused manner. Whether it is a lack of infrastructure or shift work, there are many factors that need to be taken into account in the manufacturing sector and the implementation looks different for each company. Knowledge and skills are imparted analogue or digitally, in trainings, courses and workshops. Effective competence management contributes to increasing the company’s performance and competitiveness, retaining employees and minimising risks. In order to achieve this, we support each company with individual solutions that are precisely tailored to the respective requirements in competence management.