Rockwell Training Future Automation Staff … Supporting Vets


Rockwell AutomationAt this week’s Rockwell Automation TechLED Rockwell announced a new partnership with Manpower to train (“upskill”) 1,000 veterans per year.  The new initiative, reported by Control magazine, is designed to help address the expected shortage in skilled automation staff that will be needed in manufacturing.

According to the article “The U.S. manufacturing sector is estimated to produce up to 3.5 million new jobs over the next decade. But with close to 2.5 million manufacturing workers set to retire by 2025 and ongoing skill shortages, up to 2 million of those new jobs could go unfilled.” And, according to a ManpowerGroup study on the Skills revolution and the need for digitization skills “most U.S. employers think automation will increase, not decrease, headcount in manufacturing, but at a higher skill level.”

Blake Moret, president and CEO of Rockwell Automation, commented

“By bringing together the expertise and experience of the world’s largest company devoted exclusively to industrial productivity with the world leader in innovative workforce solutions, we’ve been able to develop a truly groundbreaking program that will help solve a challenge critical to fueling the future growth of the manufacturing sector.:

While the initiative is to be applauded in supporting the military, unfortunately helping 1,000 veterans isn’t many (IMHO) and, if the employment shortfall is believed, the need is much more than 1,000. The concept could represent interesting opportunities for Rockwell distributors (who, as most know, have exclusive market territories.)


  • Could Rockwell distributors partner with local Manpower offices to develop their own initiatives … for veterans and possibly more?
  • While Rockwell distributors are known for their training programs for their customers, could the type of training be expanded?
  • Could the same concept be expanded to college students? Or as an alternative to college for high school students … or in partnering with community colleges?
  • Or could these distributors become employee resources (temps, or leased employees, or combination recruiting / training firms) for their customers?
  • Or is this another billable service … providing trained “contractors” to support their customers?

Additionally, could this be the bridge for distributors to further benefit from the IIoT? Consider …

  • If a distributor is able to offer IIoT software services, provide dashboards and analytic services while integrating into these tools determine the predictive maintenance needs to provide “just in time” MRO supplies, could providing trained automation staff be a benefit (and yes, the people are a billable service)?
  • And if a distributor is providing “people”, what are the odds that the distributor will be disintermediated from the purchasing / material fulfillment process?

Theoretically the same concepts could be explored with training programs tied to other automation manufacturers, however, given Rockwell’s US market share, they could be the most effective due to scale.

With many distributors “talking” about getting into services as a means of differentiating themselves, perhaps expanding their product expertise into people and training expertise could be a true differentiator helping retain business but also providing a unique sales proposition that could help in growing the business (and profitability.)  Yes there may be a need to learn “best in class” training, people management and people deployment structures via a focused department, but the concept could be worth exploring by talking to your customers.

Perhaps at this week’s AD HR Leader’s Summit this could be a topic. Given that AD is the largest single entity networking Rockwell distributors, perhaps there is a model where AD acts as a concept clearinghouse or a platform for supporting distributors with this concept (given that national chains that have Rockwell have access to other HR and business management resources.)

Think about it … if you had advocates that you deployed into some of your best customers, would that help in customer / sales retention and growth?

Too outside a distributor’s comfort zone? Something to ponder? Know someone who is experimenting with a similar concept?

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