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The 8 soft skills you need to kickstart your career in manufacturing

In this article, I will be looking at what soft skills actually are and which ones are needed for a successful career in the manufacturing industry.

There are many different career opportunities within the manufacturing industry. From assembly work, putting together components of products and assembling finished products, welding and operating machinery that produces the products, to production manager or quality controller. Consequently, you will need the right professional qualifications and skills for your chosen career path. These could include engineering qualifications – everything from relevant NVQs to a Masters degree, depending on the specific role, but in addition to these skills, you will need soft skills too. In this article, I will be looking at what soft skills actually are and which ones are needed for a successful career in the manufacturing industry.

8 skills career

There are many different career opportunities within the manufacturing industry. From assembly work, putting together components of products and assembling finished products, welding and operating machinery that produces the products, to production manager or quality controller. Consequently, you will need the right professional qualifications and skills for your chosen career path. These could include engineering qualifications – everything from relevant NVQs to a Masters degree, depending on the specific role, but in addition to these skills, you will need soft skills too. In this article, I will be looking at what soft skills actually are and which ones are needed for a successful career in the manufacturing industry.

WHAT ARE SOFT SKILLS?

Employers look for soft skills that demonstrate the personal attributes needed for success in a job role. These can cover a multitude of characteristics. Soft skills differ from the hard skills you gain through education and training. They demonstrate your ability to work with others and give insight into your personality type. They are much harder to evaluate and define but include things like adaptability, communication, listening, time management and creative thinking; amongst several others. Whichever job role you are aiming for, there are some soft skills which will be required across the board. So today, we are sharing some of the top soft skills to focus on for a successful career in manufacturing.

1. ADAPTABILITY

Being adaptable means having the ability to embrace challenges, stay relevant, and become a better future employee. Being able to work without boundaries – to be open to new ways of doing things – means you will be more likely to find diverse and unexpected solutions to the challenges you encounter. By avoiding imposing limitations on your thinking, you will enjoy challenge rather than fear it. If you aspire to become a leader in the industry, your ability to adapt will stand you in good stead and is a prerequisite for any leadership role. Great leaders recognise that change is inevitable, and an open mindset will keep you resilient and positive. You will also remain relevant; because you are comfortable with change and experimentation. Shaking up conventional ways of doing things enable innovation. And challenging the status quo often leads to growth – both personal and for the company.

 

2. COMMUNICATION

Communication is critical when you work as part of a team – it enables you to troubleshoot issues, work collaboratively to achieve goals and show you’re a team player. From clarifying how to use tools when mentoring a colleague to demonstrating your proposal to the supervisor, clarity and transparency in communication will ensure you are heard – and understood! Remember also that communication is a two-way process. So, listen to your colleagues. Remember, listening leads to growth and understanding, and avoids assumptions being made!

3. ATTENTION TO DETAIL

Attention to detail is a critical part of most jobs. And in an industry where speed and precision is often a priority, the ability to focus on your work and pay attention to detail is paramount – not only accuracy but for safety. After all, a lack of awareness when operating machinery can lead to disastrous outcomes for you and your coworkers.

4. CRITICAL THINKING AND PROBLEM SOLVING

Being able to think on your feet and troubleshoot small problems demonstrates critical thinking skills that will enable you to make decisions based on facts and deal with unforeseen issues – skills that will be recognised as essential attributes for potential supervisory roles.

5. INTEREST IN AND APTITUDE FOR TECHNOLOGY

Manufacturing is already seeing the changes brought by industry 4.0. An aptitude for technology places you in a great position, as hiring managers are looking out for talented individuals with an interest in, and aptitude for, technological advancements. And with a move towards AI in the workplace, those who show interest also demonstrate their long-term potential to the business.

6. RELIABILITY

Reliability is key in manufacturing. In an industry where you play an essential part in a process – be it operating a machine to produce goods of doing the final quality testing – all parts of the process require reliable individuals – both in the standard of work they produce but also in their commitment to their role and the company in general. Arriving on time for your work is a crucial part of reliability; being late could mean you may be holding someone else up from going home, as well as indicating a lack of responsibility and commitment. The ability to work without constant supervision is also positive and demonstrates your capacity to take on a role with added responsibility.

7. ENTHUSIASM

Having the enthusiasm to learn new things, and work flexibility across the team -makes you of value to the company. Showing willing – and being cross-trained in a number of areas means you can cover for other employees who are off sick, on leave etc. It also adds to your skillset, meaning you could become an excellent trainer or supervisor in the future.

8. TEAMWORK

Teamwork is vital in any role. Working collaboratively with others means you can harness the strengths individuals bring to the table to reinforce the group and hit targets. Working towards a common goal also builds team morale, and creates a sense of value and belonging, which will see you stay with your chosen manufacturer and develop a long and successful career.

CONCLUSION

If you are thinking of working in the manufacturing industry, a desire to learn as well as a genuine interest in the processes will set you in good stead. From entry-level jobs to senior managerial roles, manufacturing offers a wide range of possibilities and opportunities for those individuals who demonstrate the critical soft skills discussed in this article. Good luck with your career goals!