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For decades American manufacturing prospered, spurred on by an insatiable desire for new products, continual improvements in technology and an abundant workforce of skilled manufacturing tradesmen. But as companies progressively moved their manufacturing overseas, so went the jobs for hundreds of thousands of skilled workers. Those companies that elected to keep their manufacturing in America however, still needed skilled manufacturing workers, and the most efficient and direct way to achieve this was through company-sponsored, structured training programs.
One company that stands out particularly, which early on developed and implemented in-house training programs for its skilled manufacturing employees is OPEX Corporation, headquartered in Moorestown, New Jersey. This world-leading manufacturer of high-speed automated mailroom, document scanning and material handling systems, has been providing structured, company-sponsored training programs to develop skilled workers, continuously since the early 2000s.
Despite the trend to push manufacturing offshore for the last 30 years, OPEX made a deliberate choice in the other direction, and instead invested heavily into training its employees. It has been at the forefront of employing and training previously unskilled workers, and transforming them into highly skilled manufacturing tradesmen like CNC machinists and programmers, welders, electronic technicians and woodworkers.
The breadth of this company’s training programs is extensive, reaching well beyond manufacturing. OPEX maintains one of the most comprehensive service organisations in the industrial sector. Where outsourcing field technicians is the norm, OPEX built its own worldwide network of over 300 locally-based, direct-employee field technicians, which provide full 24/7/365 support to its thousands of customers. Every one of these technicians has been factory trained and certified at OPEX.
“The shortage of skilled manufacturing tradesmen has presented some unique challenges for us,” says Doug Hendry, Manufacturing Operations Manager at OPEX, and First Class Journeyman Machinist. “Like so many other manufacturers, when we put out ads for qualified CNC machinists, for example, we do not get very many applicants. The pool of skilled labour has disappeared, as manufacturing has gone offshore.
Read the full article in the February issue of Manufacturing Global.