Overheard

Barbara Humpton on empowering and retaining workers by making upskilling available

Innovators share ideas with WorkingNation Overheard at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2021
By Laura Aka
October 19, 2021

Workforce development is at the core of Siemens USA‘s identity, according to Barbara Humpton, the company’s president and CEO. “Companies are more than dollars, buildings, and inventions. Companies are made up of people. I believe that companies need to actually invest in people and actually cultivate a workforce much in the same way they think about cultivating customer relationships. It’s on us to find talent and help people develop their careers.”

WorkingNation sat down with Humpton at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2021 in Beverly Hills as part of our #WorkingNationOverheard interview series. With Charting a New Course as the guiding theme, thought leaders and innovators shared ideas about the changing economy, worker development, education, tech, philanthropy, and more.

Siemens focuses on digitization, electrification, and automation for the process and manufacturing industries. Humpton says “what we’re seeing right now in manufacturing is the convergence of the real and the virtual worlds. We’re seeing more and more digital tools come into play.”

Empowering workers by making learning available leads to retention and a growth mindset, according to Humpton. “Yes, we still have hands-on classic manufacturing jobs, but more and more we’re even seeing multi-decade, grizzled veterans of manufacturing get excited about the digital tools being introduced into their workplace.”

“At any given time, we have some 2,000 job openings across the country. About a third of them actually are for skilled trades and others are for digital natives who can truly work from anywhere. The nature of the jobs themselves is changing over time. But what we’re hoping is to be able to first retain the skilled employees who are currently with us, but then reach out into a more diverse talent pool to attract them to our work.”

To achieve greater diversity, equity, and inclusion, Humpton notes it’s important to expand the roster of talent pools. “We’re beginning to recruit in places we never have before. We’ve always had deep relationships with historically Black colleges and universities, and we’ve been part of the Congressional Black Caucus, bringing interns into our environment.”

“More than that, the trick is understanding where there are pockets of people who have never been exposed to the great work we do, giving them a chance to be familiar with the kind of work, and find out if this is, in fact, their purpose as well.”

Increasing the numbers of women in manufacturing is also a strong goal, according to Humpton. “In order to attract more women into the industrial sector, we’ve been focusing truly all the way from K-12 through mid-career changes. What’s really exciting to me right now is the idea that people mid-career could choose to enter roles in manufacturing. I honestly think that by improving our overall parental leave programs, giving more benefits that help people with their responsibilities at home—men and women—we’re finding more and more people can make the switch into manufacturing.”

Click here to learn more about Siemens USA.

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