In today’s MRO environment, technicians no longer need just the right technical skills. A solid grounding in the soft skills of workplace collaboration—and a global awareness needed to deal with foreign customers—are becoming equally important.
“When hiring technicians, we evaluate each candidate’s soft skills: the ability to communicate and work in a team environment, which is becoming much more important today,” says Eric Matteson, plant leader at GE Lafayette, the assembly facility for the GE Leap engine family, and MRO for the Leap 1A and 1B. “Of course we also look at the applicant’s data analytics skills,” he notes.
GE, Matteson reports, hires just 20-30% of the technicians it screens for employment, with lack of adequate proficiency in the soft skills the biggest disqualifier.
He also cites “a global awareness” as another important hiring prerequisite. “About 75% of the engines we will produce—as many as five engines per day by 2020—will be exported,” Matteson says. “When those engines come back to the shops, it will be essential for mechanics, who are increasingly interfacing with customers, to be able to interact with them and build customer relations based on an awareness of cultural differences and the ability to communicate with that kind of an understanding.”