Forbes: How Industry 4.0 Helps Manufacturers Solve Workforce Challenges

Part 1 in a two-part series exploring the less tangible benefits of Industry 4.0.

Stuck between a soon-to-be retired workforce and a cohort of young engineers and operators with comparatively less experience, manufacturers are in a bind. They have job openings, but can’t find qualified people to fill them.

While the general public believes that all of the manufacturing jobs are going away, unemployment figures tell a different story. Since 2011, manufacturing unemployment has been lower than overall unemployment, sometimes by wide margins.

Exacerbating the issue is the skills gap, which means the jobs that employers need filled require skills that most of the unemployment pool doesn’t have. Manufacturers need highly skilled engineers and machine operators, but often times it’s those without this required skill set that are looking for work.

The result is that almost every factory I visit has open engineering positions and is struggling to run their business with a workforce that’s smaller than ideal.

One of the solutions to this conundrum is technology. Industry 4.0 technologies amplify the contributions of every employee, from the highest skilled engineer to the entry-level operator, increasing their productivity, so manufacturers  can do more with fewer employees. Here’s how it helps address each aspect of manufacturers’ workforce problem.