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90 SMT Magazine • September 2017 Bergman: Simply put, components are getting smaller, printed circuit board size is shrinking, electronic products are continually changing, manufacturing equipment is becoming more automated and requires technical repair skills, and worldwide manufacturing requires com- munication skills. Technologies change; needs change. Success in the electronics industry is largely determined by a company's ability to meet industry needs, but these needs are not static. The ability to rapidly and effectively re- train workers on new processes and methods, or new technologies, is a key factor in compe- tition. Las Marias: How would you describe the skills gap right now in the electronics manufacturing industry? Bergman: The skills gap is a chronic problem in the electronics manufacturing sector. Most manufacturing companies have a hard time aligning the talent needed to run their business- es with the talent that is available to work local- ly. And as new innovations emerge, new skill re- quirements emerge as well. As an association that represents thousands of member facilities across the global electron- ics industry supply chain, we decided to sur- vey our U.S. members to gain insight into how the skills gap affects them. The results indicate that most of our member companies have trou- ble finding applicants with the necessary expe- rience and technical skills. Among production jobs, general assem- bler and hand solder experts are the most dif- ficult to fill. On the professional side, quality control, process and entry-level electrical engi- neers have been hardest to find. Insufficient ex- perience is the most common reason that appli- cants do not qualify for most positions. How- ever, for many technical professional positions, the leading reason jobs went unfilled was that there were no applicants at all. Respondents cite many essential skills that are in short supply, but the most common ones are soldering for production jobs, and engineers with industry experience, especially in pro- cess, test, and quality control. Two-thirds of our member companies reported they would ex- pand their operations if they knew that finding qualified workers would be no problem. Thus, finding solutions to the skills gap is a high pri- ority if America wants to expand its manufac- turing sector. In response to mounting concern about the shortage of U.S. workers with skills needed by electronics manufacturers, IPC conducted a fast-facts study this April to learn more about the skills gap as it affects U.S. electronics assem- bly manufacturers. Las Marias: How is IPC helping the industry ad- dress this issue? Bergman: Smart decisions, quality products, re- liable performance are all critical to success in the highly-competitive, always evolving glob- al electronics industry. To support these ever- changing demands, IPC delivers various meth- ods of education, training, and certification. IPC training and certification programs are based on some of the most popular and critical IPC stan- dards. IPC also develops media products for use in training employees in specific subject mat- ter topics. Launched last July, IPC EDGE delivers edu- cational opportunities via online video train- ing across the industry. IPC EDGE provides a 24/7 online training environment. The goal is to maximize training efficiency with minimal time away from the job or time spent in a tradi- tional classroom. The system is mobile friendly with on-de- mand courses ranging from IPC Essentials, an introductory course to the electronics indus- try, to a new electrostatic discharge (ESD) certi- fication program launched in September 2016. More than 40 courses are currently available with more planned for release in 2017. IPC EDGE curriculum will continue to evolve to meet the industry's growing demands. To fur- ther accomplish this, IPC has engaged member companies and training centers to develop new course topics. The result of this is a strength- ened education portfolio to deliver the most ef- ficient and effective training possible. Through these educational programs, IPC aims to keep the electronics industry workforce on top of their game. IPC'S DAVID BERGMAN ON INDUSTRY TRAINING AND EDUCATION

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