I’ve decided I want to get new training and learn a new skill. Where can I start?

I’ve decided I want to get new training and learn a new skill. Where can I start?

Welcome to “Ask Deb from QA,” a new column from MxD.

Every week, Deb from QA — with decades of experience on the factory floor — will answer your questions to demystify and explain the digital manufacturing industry.

Please submit your questions to debfromqa@mxdusa.org

Dear Deb: The COVID pandemic has made me think hard about my job security. I’ve decided I want to get new training and learn a new skill. Where can I start?

It’s hard to look for silver linings in times like these, but all this time spent indoors has inspired me to take up new hobbies and skills. I’m becoming a better baker, for one! I can play the first four bars of Clair de Lune on the piano. And I’ve gotten really good at endless scrolling on Netflix. 

Finding time to improve your professional skills is also a smart way to take advantage of these uncertain times. Learning new skills and gaining new certifications is a way to boost job security; you’ll have more options if you find yourself needing or wanting a new job.  And there have never been so many resources out there to help you learn. 

In manufacturing, it’s all about processes and systems. So why not apply that to figuring out how to learn a new skill? Let’s lay it out in three steps.

1. First, figure out exactly what you’d like to learn. Is it robotics? Artificial intelligence? Virtual and augmented reality? Cybersecurity? Also, know that there are topics out there that you currently don’t even know you’d be interested in or good at, so it’s important to keep an open mind. 

Be careful of just Googling and clicking on the top search result. Search engines are the Wild West, and information varies greatly depending on the source. The National Association of Manufacturers website? Absolutely. Some random person’s Geocities page? Not so much. At MxD, we’ve also got a helpful taxonomy that lists 165 jobs of the future in digital manufacturing. It’s not a bad place to start.   

2. Next, consider attending a workshop, whether virtual or in-person. Many training workshops require a nominal fee to attend, but these workshops might make you realize what’s a good fit and what is not. And that’ll save you time and money in the long run.

3. If you enjoyed the preview, enrolling in a class is the third step. 

Education, especially in digital manufacturing, isn’t necessarily expensive and time-consuming. More and more classes are available online (and staying online for the foreseeable future). Some of the best training is happening at community and junior colleges.

One last thing to consider: You should consider speaking with your supervisor. Many companies might even subsidize your education or give you time off. If that’s the case, there’s no reason to not take advantage of training! Good luck and stay safe.

Assuring quality,

Download MxD’s Hiring Guide: Cybersecurity in Manufacturing, which identifies 247 cybersecurity job roles and the skills, education and training needed to build a new security workforce.

Check out last week’s Ask Deb here:
What are some of the emerging digital technologies out there that manufacturers should be paying attention to?

Deb from QA wants to hear your questions. Send ‘em to debfromqa@mxdusa.org and she’ll answer as soon she’s done with her shift.