The Aging Workforce: More Prevalent Than You Think

Regarding the “Aging Workforce” issue, some companies are choosing to ignore this issue altogether. That’s one approach, but maybe not the best one…

The issue of Aging Workforce can be broken down into two components:

(i) Resource Availability, and
(ii) Knowledge Management.

Resource Availability basically has to do with the net imbalance between retirees and graduates. Aside from some post-retirement contracts or engineering scholarships, there’s not much that the average company can do to solve this problem in the near term.

Knowledge Management is all about keeping track of the intellectual property, the know-how, the set-up, the configurations and operational “tricks” related to the safe operations and profitability of their site. This is something that EVERY COMPANY can do something about. And it is something that EVERY COMPANY does do something about. The problem is the way that they do it is…. well…. so out of date.

In the old days, before the advent of computers and software to run the plant, the knowledge for managing the plant was kept in neatly organized binders. Lots of paper that held the latest and greatest information on the how-to and why’s of running the plant. And that was fine for that era – a time when change occurred more slowly, operations were less complex and efficiencies were lower.

But today – computers and software are everywhere, even embedded in places we do not see – and the pace of change is faster than ever. Many companies still persist in following the old way of managing their knowledge. Sure, they have nice SharePoint servers and shared directories, but the creation of the knowledge still follows the same model as before – manually done by an individual. That could still be ok – if our engineers actually took the time to record all their changes, observations and recommendations. But they don’t.

As a simple example, consider the modern-day automation system. Easy to use. Easy to change. Too easy to change by too many people. So nobody – except perhaps the one expert control systems engineer – really knows what all it contains and how it interacts. And then, before long, the control engineer rotates to a new job or leaves for greener pastures… and takes that knowledge with him. Not good for knowledge management, that’s for sure.

Fortunately, we at PAS are working on software solutions to better manage knowledge in your plant. About 500 sites worldwide already use our software to manage their control system configurations and many more are extending its use to real-time databases, advanced applications and other.

If you’re not using our software to help manage your knowledge, maybe you should. Because for each retiree who leaves, there are likely two or three others who rotate out or leave their current position. So if you think Aging Workforce from retiring professionals is the entire scope of your problem, add a factor of two or three and think again. And then ask yourself why you are not using the PAS software to its fullest capability or why you are not using it at all.

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