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46 SMT007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2022 Interview by the I-Connect Editorial Team There's been a lot of talk among PCB manufac- turers about the need to upskill their workforce. But where do you start—do you set up your own pro- gram or send staff to third-party training centers? The I-Connect007 Edi- torial Team recently asked David Hernandez, IPC vice president of education, to weigh in on this topic, and the criteria that goes into creating IPC training programs. In addition to upskilling strategies, David also delves into the need for our industry to develop a labor pipeline, as well as the challenges we face in hiring, training, and retaining employees in this industry during a tight labor market. Nolan Johnson: Dave, our conversation is on upskill- ing and how the circuit board fabricators should be looking at that situation. This is a big issue for the industry as we deal with staffing issues. tility, this coping mechanism is no longer a via- ble model. is situation highlights the need and value of digital transformation. Having a modern MES that understands every idiosyncrasy of the complexities of material management provides the soware-based automation that is required. Bear in mind that there are many other com- plexities involved, such as the management of moisture-sensitive devices and end-of-life materials, as well as multiple part-numbers, owners and statuses for identical materials belonging to different customers in, for exam- ple, the EMS environment. ese things are currently being managed, and are dependent upon, in most cases, by an extremely underval- ued human resource, or by artificially imposed, complex inefficient restrictions and practices that have invisibly accumulated over time. Digital transformation may appear to be a big step to take at a time when other challenges are pushing the limits of what can be coped with, but this must be seen from the point of view as the compelling need to change, rather than something that is put off until things set- tle down. e market does not appear to be going back to what it was any time soon, and whenever that is, the recovery opportunity may well have passed by for those who con- tinue to wait. SMT007 Michael Ford is the senior director of emerging industry strategy for Aegis Software. To read past columns or contact Ford, click here. David Hernandez: We are seeing challenges for companies trying to hire at the operator level, the unskilled or low-skill level, but also seeing the same challenges at the high-skill levels, like engineering, as well. Now, there are different challenges in each one, but the consistent theme across the board is that we don't have a pipeline that is feeding talent directly into the industry, and therefore industry is struggling to identify ways to bring in talent. Once they bring in the talent, they're having challenges to onboard and level-set that talent, because they're not pre-trained. They are also having challenges just keeping talent in the industry. Finally, and it's a big part of what this conversation is about: Once they have that talent in the industry and they're able to keep them, how are they able to continually upskill them to new technologies, new processes, and best practices? When we talk about these challenges, it's not one thing; it's really a cul- mination of these different challenges throughout the industry coming together at the same time. To read the entire interview, which originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of PCB007 Maga- zine, click here. A Game Plan for Upskilling Your Fab Workforce

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