We hear a lot about the need for white-collar management types to tweak their skills to keep up with the changing needs of companies competing in a global economy.
For example, a different management style is required for companies juggling multiple deals with offshore suppliers, attorney John Delaney tells IT Business Edge in a recent interview, Shorter Outsourcing Deals Require Greater Customer Involvement:
...the customer will need to retain more skills in-house and greater focus on strategy because shorter deals tend to be more tactical and suppliers therefore focus on only short-term objectives. So the customer itself needs to drive longer-term aims.
Now it seems that employees throughout the corporate food chain, all the way down to the folks on assembly lines in the dwindling numbers of U.S. factories, need to tune up their skills.
According to a manufacturing specialist quoted in a recent Indianapolis Star story, domestic automakers like General Motors are seeking folks with computer skills to man their increasingly automated production lines.
This is a jarring shock to employees like one quoted in the Star, an industrial janitor at Delphi Kokomo: "I wish I had gone to college when I had the opportunity. But they promised me a career, and now they've taken it away from me."
Workers without computer skills will likely be forced to accept pay cuts and other concessions worked out by labor unions and companies like GM to keep some manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
The demand for more specialization is driving the creation of groups like Conexus Indiana, an organization tasked with promoting advanced manufacturing skills in the state, as well as funding for broader educational initiatives like those included in the America Competes Act.