Manufacturing Skills | A Guide for New Hires

April 27, 2023
  • John Hindman
    By John Hindman
    Director of Learning Services
    Tooling U-SME


Manufacturing technology is accelerating faster than the pace of people development. The highest turnover rate and retirements in years are adding increased pressure for organizations to find new skilled hires. Skill sets have changed, and applicants today often don’t have what it takes to fill needed jobs. 

Has your company purchased equipment and you are tapping into only a fraction of its potential? Have you delayed investing in the necessary training and can’t ensure those working with the machine are capable of programming, setting up, operating, and maintaining it? Now’s the time to unlock that potential. 

Let’s discuss the top skills new hires need and the components of effective training programs that get new employees up to speed and integrated into the organizational culture. 

In-Demand Manufacturing Production Positions1 

Nearly 9 out of 10 respondents (88%) said their company is having problems finding skilled workers in manufacturing.2 In-demand positions include:

  • CNC machinists
  • Machinists
  • CNC programmers
  • Maintenance technicians
  • Entry-level production
  • Production operators
  • Quality control technicians
  • Tool and die makers

Manufacturing Skills to Develop 

In manufacturing, new hires need to develop a broad skill set. Many manufacturing skills can be developed through competency-based training programs starting with online and on-the-job training. Which ones you choose to focus on will depend on the specific industry in which you work. 

  1. Safety
    All incoming employees working in a manufacturing facility must have a basic knowledge of proper health and safety practices. Employees should also understand how vital situational awareness is while on the facility floor to help to prevent incidents or hazards.
  2. Applied Mathematics
    Understanding foundational math will ease a new hire into more complicated design and production scheduling manufacturing tasks, both of which are commonly used in a variety of manufacturing environments. Mathematics skills include reading blueprints. These contain all the instructions and requirements necessary to manufacture and inspect a part.
  3. Quality and Lean
    Businesses benefit from continuous improvement skills, including waste reduction, better productivity and increased quality, resulting in a stronger bottom line. Individuals with these skills benefit from personal growth and development, potential for advancement and an increased ability to drive positive change.
  4. Assembly
    Assembly is often performed on lines, which may be manual, automated or a combination of both. Understanding related job skills, including assembly methods, mechanical fastening, adhesive bonding, and welding foundations, prepares new hires to learn more aspects during on-the-job training.
  5. Machining
    From CNC machinist to tool and die maker, machinists should have mechanical skills along with a strong attention to detail and accuracy. Skills include being familiar with how blueprints, sketches, or computer-aided design (CAD) files are used to produce (often metal) parts.
  6. Soft Skills
    We believe human innovation will advance manufacturing and solve organization’s greatest problems, but growing a successful manufacturing workforce requires supporting the individual, too.  For this reason, developing soft skills like critical thinking, relationship building, persuasion, and empathy will only grow more important in the years to come.

Training New Hires

While manufacturers realize they need to invest in their new hires by providing learning opportunities, often they find it difficult to allocate the time, resources and expense needed to develop a structured onboarding plan and implement the training. This is where a competency-based training curriculum using blended learning that consists of online and on-the-job training can help you upskill new hires. 

Tooling U-SME offers quick-start training solutions for small businesses. Our Training Packages are a series of pre-defined online classes for manufacturing job roles including in-demand production positions. Training Packages – combined with your on-the-job instruction – quickly create a learning road map and career path to help position your new hires for success. Contact Tooling U-SME at 866.706.8665 or learn more about our training packages. 

  1. Tooling U-SME Industry Pulse: Manufacturing Workforce Report
  2. Mission Critical: Workforce 2021
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