Technology will drive manufacturers forward on their Fourth Industrial Revolution journey. However, at the heart of any manufacturer’s digital transformation will be the reinvention of their business’s workforce.
While technological change will drive manufacturing, businesses need to plan how they will deploy their workforce to its best capabilities to utilise 4IR technology.
The real enabler of this new technology – whether that is VR, AI, automation, IoT devices or the latest data systems – will and always be the people needed to deploy it to its fullest effect.
And just as technology is changing rapidly, the people using it must adapt not only to new ways of working, but also to new methods of work.
Manufacturers need to ‘reinvent’ their workforce
Two-thirds of manufacturers expect their workforce to increase in the next five years, according to EEF’s report, ‘Reinventing the Manufacturing Workforce’.
This being primarily driven by plans to introduce new products, but also due to the adoption of new technologies and techniques. Despite this, just one-third (32%) of manufacturers have a workforce plan.
That means two-thirds don’t. Yet, there is also a greater need for companies to ensure that they have the right people with the right skills to navigate the many changes the sector is to face in the coming years.
Though according to the report, 72% of manufacturers are introducing new or continuing to run apprenticeship programmes to secure the skills they need for the future. With almost half of manufacturers revising their current recruitment strategies to acquire workers from other industries and sectors with transferable skills.
Manufacturers must broaden their recruitment options and seek to hire workers from other sectors and industries, as competition for skills remains high.
AI could create jobs and aid recruitment
Despite many people believing AI systems might ‘steal’ their job, AI could actually create many more jobs than it displaces, and also vastly improve current recruitment methods.
The rise of machines, robots and algorithms in the workplace could actually create 133 million new roles in place of the 75 million that AI is set to displace between now and 2022, according to the World Economic Forum.
WEF’s findings also showed that just over half (54%) of employees of large companies would need to significantly re and upskill their current workforce in order to fully harness the growth opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
AI systems could improve the recruitment process too, particularly as manufacturers are now looking to recruit across industries. Artificial intelligence systems could rapidly sift through CVs, as well as target specific individuals who may fit a role but may not be aware of that position.
As their workforce grows, manufacturers need to integrate these types of advanced systems if they are to acquire the best and most suitable talent. Businesses need skills of the future – which of course are hard to predict – in order to drive business growth, offer up new ways of thinking and propel operations, all to align with the technological revolution manufacturing is undergoing.
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