What's Missing From Your Workforce Development Strategy?

May 09, 2017

Back in 1979, Nypro Inc. (now Jabil Packaging Solutions) was becoming a leader in the blossoming plastics industry but dealt with a challenge that many companies are still facing today: Insufficient talent to fill open roles. Where others saw a problem, we at Jabil (formerly Nypro) saw an opportunity to take matters into our own hands.  

We developed and launched a world-class training institute, Jabil Plastics Technology Learning Center (formerly Nypro Plastics University), to develop our workforce from the ground up. Now, 38 years later, we've helped over 2,000 participants drive their competency and confidence in plastics technology.  

Over time, the Jabil Plastics Technology Learning Center has evolved from an employee-focused program to one that trains suppliers and customers seeking both technical and business-related plastics education. By involving university partners, numerous internal teams and a tightly knit ecosystem of advanced plastics and electronics manufacturing experts, we're building a program that's second to none.  

Evolving Companies Have Evolving Needs 

As digital transforms business, demand for employees with highly technical skills grows incrementally. However, Demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills is outpacing the ability of universities to provide enough qualified graduates. 

On top of that, today's workforce is aging. By 2024, workers aged 55+ will make up 24.8 percent of the labor force, up from 11.9 percent in 1994, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The aging workforce is not following traditional retirement norms either. They're staying in the labor force longer than ever before. With advances in technology, these workers will face more challenges in adapting to the digital business landscape than their younger colleagues. 

As the dynamics of the workforce change, it is up to companies to equip their employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in their roles and drive the competitiveness of their companies. Studies show – when companies invest in their employees through ongoing training and development opportunities – those same “humans” invest in their companies with higher retention rates and job satisfaction. According to a ASTD study, companies with comprehensive training programs have 218 percent higher revenue per employee and 24 percent higher profit margins.  

Workforce Development Starts Within 

Launching an internal development program doesn't happen overnight. It takes a village to make such an undertaking feasible. Everything from key leadership to drive curriculum and technical equipment requirements, to partnerships with external resources who can bring even more expertise to the table. Our value and reach has been significantly enhanced by our external learning partnerships with Wachusett Community College, Fitchburg State University and The University of Massachusetts Lowell. 

Today, our learning center takes full advantage of localized classrooms with state-of-the-art equipment and global distance learning technology to deliver its curriculum. In addition to plastics courses, we also offer others on related technologies like 3D Printing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and printed electronics that are disrupting an industry in the midst of digital transition.  

With courses taught by industry professionals, participants learn from some of the leading experts in the world. And they don't need to be in the classroom to get the education. Participants can attend certain critical programs and receive certifications virtually anywhere and anytime through convenient online learning. 

A Program That Pays Off 

Internal workforce development programs benefit the whole ecosystem: employees, suppliers and customers. Participants become even more valuable to their employers and stay on top of industry requirements and best practices in times of extreme change.  

With our training, suppliers and customers benefit, too. By staying current on best practices, organizations speed time-to-market, improve quality, lower costs and gain competitive advantages in all operational facets of their business. The program also enhances plastics solutions for improved customer satisfaction and enhanced brand loyalty.  

Who knew 38 years ago that our learning center would become such a valuable asset? Two thousand participants later – it’s not only been an asset to Jabil, but to countless companies and suppliers who have invested in learning to drive success. Thinking about adding a training program to your workforce development strategy? Your employees are your most valuable resource, so invest in them! Don't wait around for qualified candidates and partners to come to you. Train your own and the results will speak for themselves.