The hidden skills required for success in today’s manufacturing industry

Companies are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of soft-skills training for their staff. Rum Charles, principal consultant at the Australian Institute of Soft Skills Training (AISS Training), explains how the companies could benefit from such training programs. 

It is no secret that automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the business landscape. It is no longer just the manual tasks that are being handled by robots. They are also increasingly capable of accomplishing activities that include cognitive capabilities, such as making tacit judgments, sensing emotion, or even driving.

A survey by the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2020, AI, robotics and automation will lead to the disappearance of 7.1 million jobs in 15 of the world’s major industrialised nations.

But, there are certain traits and skills that robots cannot and will never replace. Human skills, or “soft skills” are what make humans such an important part of any company and what set companies apart from their competitors.

According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute, titled “A future that works: automation, employment, and productivity,” humans are still much stronger at skills such as logical reasoning, creativity, coordination, identifying social and emotional states and moving around diverse environments.

Realising this fact, companies are becoming ever more aware of the importance of soft-skills training for their staff, as the main strategy to remain competitive and boost their productivity and growth.

Manufacturers’ Monthly reached out to Rum Charles, Principal Consultant at the Australian Institute of Soft Skills Training (AISS Training), on the importance of soft skills.

“The biggest problem that Australian companies are going to face in a few years – and which many are struggling with right now – is running out of appropriately skilled people in their workforce who can communicate the company’s value propositions to customers and prospective customers. Because irrespective of how good your products are, if you don’t have people with good presentation and communication skills, then you’re going to struggle to get your product to market,” Charles said.

He pointed out that while the focus has been on upskilling workers with technical skills and redirecting academic studies towards STEM, Australia has a real problem – basic people to people communication skills are very low.

“Young people coming out of trade schools or university have had little to no training in soft skills, and many people already in the workforce have not updated their skills in many years. They need to realise that communication and creative thinking skills are central to the survival of every business today, he said.

In order to be a smart nation focusing on smart and niche manufacturing, collaboration and communication play a key role.

“In terms of leadership skills in Australia, there’s a massive deficiency because we haven’t been training our business leaders of the future, particularly in manufacturing.

“Without a customer-centric strategy, retaining customers becomes harder – particularly when you don’t have the soft skills to keep them engaged with you,” Charles pointed out.

It always costs a lot more to gain a new customer than keep an existing one, and many manufacturing companies find themselves in financial difficulties if they loss a big customer and the loss of two will see some close their doors for good.

Reducing the companies’ risk due to unpaid invoices through credit control training

Even if companies realise the importance of soft skills training for their sales team, not enough of them realise the most critical department is their accounts receivable department. “No invoices paid, no cash flow,” according to Charles.

“If you ask companies whether they have trained their accounts receivable staff, most will answer NO. In addition, most companies don’t even have a dedicated accounts receivable staff member. The task is often handled by inexperienced people who perform all sorts of other tasks simultaneously and like with most things people don’t like doing, it gets left to last, if done at all.

“This has resulted in many companies struggling with cash-flow, being left with large amounts of outstanding invoices that are in the 90-day plus category. Through our credit-control training, we can help the companies reduce their outstanding invoices over 60 days, by up to 20 per cent or more in some cases.

“We achieve this by training the accounts receivable staff and giving them the confidence and skills to ask customers for overdue payments, whilst maintaining an excellent relationship with the customer. We see credit control as part of a healthy customer service dynamic. We also train them on the necessary attitude and voice skills required to have impact on the phone, as well as the negotiating skills that can help them through difficult situations,” he said.

“The strategy I would recommend is a very simple one – send them to us (AISS Training) for up-skilling. We believe in equipping our clients with professionally trained accounts receivable people. If you don’t have a professionally trained accounts receivable team, it is likely that you will always have the risk of large amounts of outstanding money,” said Charles.

All in a day’s work

And Charles also said that the time needed to turn that around in terms of skills, is a single day. “No long drawn out training, send us your staff for a day, we send them back changed and ready to collect outstanding invoices.”

AISS Training offers interactive training courses, as well as tailored, in-house training, ranging from customer service to credit-control and leadership training. As a facilitator, Rum Charles has worked with multiple organisations such as Deloitte, EY, BHP, Haymes Paint, as well as government institutions and many SMEs, providing soft-skill training via interactive engaging training sessions.

“Through our one-day and two day training courses, we help people gain the required soft skill and the confidence to succeed in their roles,” Rum Charles said.

“By giving the staff an enjoyable training experience, we help organisations thrive in these competitive times.”

For more information about AISS Trainings Credit Control course or other soft skills courses, visit the AISS training website at or give them a call at 1300 766 067 to find a course suitable for your staff members’ growth. Through training comes staff engagement and retention. The greater the staff engagement the greater the company profits.






Leave a Reply