Naples, Fla. — Fun and games — or at least games — might be a way to draw young people back to manufacturing.
"There's a difference in passive and active training, and video games are the best way to work for younger people," Samer Forzley said at the Plastics News Executive Forum, held Feb. 25-26 in Naples.
Forzley is CEO of Simutech Multimedia, an Ottawa, Ontario-based firm whose software training products include factory demos. Reaching younger job candidates is vital, he said, because 25 percent of skilled labor workers are within two years of retirement.
"Manufacturing is losing people because it's still looked at as dirty," Forzley said. "And the skills gap is double-ended. Older workers don't teach younger ones how to fix things, and younger ones don't do as much troubleshooting, which can help them learn."
Millennial-age workers "learn by search and video, not from memorization, so they can learn by playing video games," he added.
Simutech also has worked with high schools, trade schools and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs to involve young people in manufacturing. Forzlay encouraged manufacturing firms to take those same steps.