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74 SMT007 MAGAZINE I FEBRUARY 2022 Feature Article by Marc Carter Knowledge transfer, especially from the "graying-out" experienced technical work- ers in our industry, is a complex, difficult fam- ily of problems. It differs wildly between com- panies, and even within divisions of the same company. As if we needed any more impediments to replacing the "old gray guard," even in compa- nies that have the internal wherewithal to train replacements, there are barriers from inter- nal forces. One of the biggest barriers is the full manufacturing schedules in North Ameri- can electronics companies that don't leave any slack time—and the 40-hour work week is a complete fantasy for many. We can look at it from a slightly different perspective. Decades of margin pressure from, among others: • e chicken and egg dynamic of outsourcing • "Leaning" of tech staff • Profit and loss pressure to minimize replacement of staff and equipment have greatly reduced the number of manufacturing knowledge/experience holders (subject matter experts) in the workforce that could provide the basis for a meaningful knowledge transfer program In other words, some of the factors that go into the short-term focus on the balance sheet have eroded availability of the knowledge resources necessary to the hand-off of knowl- edge and experience. at same thinning of the knowledge/expe- rience ranks oen leaves that "thin gray line" without enough time to do a proper job of keeping up with their operational duties, much less any organized knowledge transfer. e subject matter experts are harried, tired, and in some cases, discouraged. It's a unique (and commendably foresighted) company that will actually provide those sub- ject matter experts with the necessary insula- tion from the daily damage control to devote any serious, compensated time to an organized knowledge transfer effort. e declining number of subject matter experts are recognized by their peers as good at Preparing the Next-gen Tech Workforce

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