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Solving a People Problem with Digital Workforce Transformation
The phrase “Silver Tsunami” was coined during the 1980s as a metaphor to describe the aging population.
At the time, members of the Greatest Generation were retiring from the workforce and their kids, the Baby Boomers, were entering the primes of their working careers.
Time marched on.
Fast forward three decades to the mid-2010s. Organizations around the globe were whispering about how waves of retiring boomers might affect their workforces in the future.
The concern was valid since it was these workers nearing the end of their careers who had acquired a lifetime of knowledge that would leave with them upon retirement. Adding to the issue was a smaller population of people joining the “blue collar” labor market to replace the experienced Boomers.
The challenges associated with workforce shortages were thought to be problems of the future…until the COVID pandemic rocked the world in March of 2020.
Almost overnight, a future problem became a present-day crisis.
According to CNBC, roughly 47 million US workers left their jobs in 2021. Included in the workforce exodus was a swell of Baby Boomers opting for early retirement and a score of younger workers whose collective walkout warranted another coined term–“The Great Resignation.”
Today, both the Great Resignation and mass retirements continue to be a growing topic of discussion that shines a light on the severe gap in organizations’ knowledge capture and sharing abilities.
As senior and experienced employees leave the workforce, they take critical operational knowledge that is often unavailable in training, manuals, work instructions, and processes.
This less-than-ideal situation is due to the fact that most worker knowledge is collected on the job and rarely documented in actionable, scalable ways.
When new workers join the workforce, therefore, they face a skills gap that cannot be easily or, more to the point, quickly filled.
The aerospace and defense sector is feeling the strain from the workforce crisis. Boeing estimates that over 56% of its engineers are 50 years and older, and replacing them will take 10 to 20 years.
Enter: digital transformation solutions
Digital transformation technologies such as augmented reality (AR)-enabled remote expert solutions enhance the physical world through digital visual elements, sound, or other sensory stimuli.
These solutions augment a worker’s day and their skills, helping an emerging workforce identify a particular problem, collaborate with SMEs, OEMs and global suppliers, process complex notes, or require a digital signoff on task completion.
AR-enabled business continuity solutions offer new workers the unique ability to connect with the right individuals, access digital workflows, look up a manual, view photos and videos from past interactions and leverage information stored in other enterprise applications.
Additionally, some digital transformation solutions also help enhance knowledge capture and sharing for organizations. These capabilities allow organizations to capture critical operational knowledge from the experienced and retiring workforce and their work environments.
The captured and digitized knowledge can then be used to offer just-in-time training to new workers, upskilling for existing workers, enhanced onboarding for just-hired workers, and remote mentorship opportunities for seasoned, expert workers.
Furthermore, digital transformation allows organizational leaders to effectively track operational outcomes. The data acquired through digitization can be used to get a better view of an organization’s operations so that trends and areas to improve can be identified.
A New Approach to Continual Training
The way we work is changing.
Today, newer workers–who grew up online and for whom Pac-Man is a pop icon on a designer T-shirt–prefer a digital approach to learning.
Emerging workers want and need access to just-in-time training delivered on digital platforms.
In addition to requiring more involved and interactive training, employees between the ages of 25 and 34 have a median tenure of 2.8 years compared to retiring workers between the ages of 55 and 64 years, who average about 9.9 years in a job.
This generational shift means that employers must invest in continual onboarding and training.
Digital transformation solutions offer a consistent approach to training, retraining, and onboarding initiatives.
Using advanced AR and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, workforces are empowered with
technology to access relevant data, content, experts, digital work instructions, and more on their smartphone or tablet, or wearable device, at the exact time the critical information is needed, regardless of the worker’s location.
The worker’s ability to solve problems faster is enhanced while eliminating the need for secondary dispatch and truck rolls, which account for the highest degree of on-site accidents among all workforces.
This has been an edited excerpt from “Digital Transformation Solutions: The Key to Solving Critical Workforce Challenges in Aerospace & Defense,” a Librestream-authored whitepaper.
Download the full paper HERE.