IPC Addresses Skills Gap with Revised EDGE Platform, Introduces New Job Task Analysis Committee

By Dave Hernandez, Senior Director of Learning and Professional Development

In a recent IPC global survey, we found that while the skills gap may vary depending on the job role and geographic location surveyed, the effects are negatively impacting our industry now and will continue over the next decade. The companies surveyed reported that almost 50 percent of allocated training time and budget is allocated to entry-level operator. Respondents also stated a low level of satisfaction with training options, a willingness to utilize online training, and a need for training options for different roles in the company. With this feedback in hand, we’ve been working hard to provide solutions to these immediate and future workforce education challenges.

For example, IPC’s online learning management system, IPC EDGE, is designed to provide training and testing services via the internet for a global audience. IPC EDGE hosts a variety of learning opportunities including white papers, webinars, IPC standards, skills development resources, and IPC certification foundation courses and provides on-demand access to an extensive library of educational content globally.

IPC EDGE is an effective tool, but it’s only one of many in the toolbox. Online education won’t solve every problem for industry. The reality is that there are some “hands-on” topics better taught in person with an experienced instructor.  While IPC EDGE cannot replace this, it can make some aspects of training more efficient and effective, while leveraging the experts from around the world. We can identify the foremost subject matter experts in each area and bring them to a virtual classroom shared by everyone.

One of the next programs to be released is the six-week online Electronics Program Manager training and certification program. Prior course feedback led us to re-design the course, making it easier for learners to complete it on a timely basis, and offering instruction with or without a live online instructor.

The revised program will be offered in two different models: a traditional classroom course and an online training program that can be completed remotely. The online program will run for six weeks, with set start and end dates, instructor lectures, group discussions, role playing exercises, team projects, and peer learning opportunities. All of the course content will provide program managers with a well-rounded understanding of the industry and knowledge that can be applied directly to their work. The program, via the EDGE platform, provides the opportunity for companies to invest in their staff, offering in-depth education needed to acquire and develop the competitive skills necessary to excel in the industry.

In addition to continuously improving the EDGE platform and course offerings, we formed the Jobs Task Analysis (JTA) Committee establishing a formal process for analyzing specific job roles. The JTA committee is a group of industry volunteer subject matter experts tasked with defining a competency model for the electronics industry.  The JTA Committee will examine various job roles to determine what knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) are required to meet the needs of the current workforce, and construct accurate and valid job descriptions.

The JTA committee will focus initially on the roles of assembly operator, machine operator, trainer, master trainer code specialist, inspector, quality assurance, program manager, design engineer, design technician, production engineer, and production technician. A second set of Job Task Analysis will begin later this year, and those will include test engineers, buyer, commodity specialist, material handling, engineering manager, and more.

Through IPC EDGE, we will provide training for each job role, ensuring students obtain the necessary skills and knowledge needed to be successful, and gain the competencies needed to take the next step in their career.

We welcome your input and involvement in addressing the workforce needs of our industry. Please consider joining our JTA Committee or recommending someone from your organization to help us identify and define job roles.  By participating you will help us to ensure that the content we are creating is designed to meet the current and future needs of the industry.

For further information, please contact me at DavidHernandez@ipc.org.