In three years, a quarter of the global manufacturing workforce will be over 55 years old. And in two more years, specialists estimate that there will be a shortage of 2 million skilled manufacturing workers. Thus, there is an urgency to maintain a steady flow of trained workers in various industries. And the solution that can reduce the skill gap is augmented reality. At least, this is the conclusion of a recent PTC report.
Why Is the Skill Gap Worrisome?
According to the report, the industries that experience the most issues are service and manufacturing. They serve a global market that demands more and more products, machines and devices of all kinds. From consumer goods to industrial equipment, these products require high level service expertise and skilled employees in maintenance, operation, assembly and field servicing.
And as technology advances, these products become more and more complex. They incorporate high precision electronic parts and components and run on various software suites.
How Do Industries Fight Against the Skilled Workforce Drain?
First of all, it is inevitable that skilled workers will retire eventually. But they can be convinced to continue working in their field of activity for a few more years with proper incentives. One of these incentives is finding attractive and effective ways of training them in the latest work techniques and procedures.
Another issue is bringing in the new generation of workers to train side by side with experienced workers. Some companies may rely on outsourcing, but this is an expensive solution. Thus, in-house recruiting and training remains the best option.
So, where does augmented reality fit in this state of facts? It is at its very core.
How Does Augmented Reality Help Reduce the Skill Gap?
In practical terms, augmented reality helps build skills in three key areas:
1. Product visualization
Workers have access to product information and diagrams or videos of how to operate machines overlaid on the physical machines. This training method has demonstrated its efficiency in building skills faster and for the long term. Instead of watching videos or looking at other workers, new hires train on the job by direct interaction with the actual machines they will use.
2. Remote Assistance
Augmented reality is very useful for field technicians who need an expert to guide them in repairing a challenging malfunction. This type of remote assistance is also useful in customer service: a technician guides the owner of a product to troubleshoot defects via augmented reality mobile apps.
3. Procedural Guidance
Using augmented reality overlays, workers can learn work procedures, safety precautions and other types of instructions. The information (text, diagram, video) appears floating above the physical item at the precise moment when the worker needs to do (or refrain from doing) something.
Why Is Augmented Reality the Future of Industrial Training?
Augmented reality offers companies in various industries several key benefits compared to other training methods:
- No disruption in the use of existing technology: companies can use AR without having to make major changes to their existing IT infrastructure and machinery;
- Wide range of content creation tools: specific augmented reality platforms and tools can help companies develop training programs and other types of content without very advanced coding skills;
- A flexible and versatile technology: it’s possible to modify and develop augmented reality content to serve the needs of many industries;
- Good cost/benefits ratio: according to PTC, AR content is affordable to develop and generates benefits in a short time.
Thus, companies across the globe should start acting now, training a new generation of skilled workers, before the generation exchange takes place in a few years.