3 Efforts to bridge the skills gap in industry 4.0
The irrepressible wave of Industry 4.0 is marked by the rise of automation that radically change the way manufacturing work. The growing demand for automation does not only change the manufacturing process, but also the business operation and model, and even the workforce landscape.
The manufacturing operation no longer needs much human intervention as automated robots are taking it by storm. The redundant and repetitive job functions, which require human effort in operating it, now begin to be taken over by robots. The good news is, the manufacturing process now runs more efficiently. While the bad news is, it leads to massive unemployment, which is one of the most concerning impacts around Industry 4.0
The changing workforce landscape
Nevertheless, do the robots really take over the human’s job functions in this cutting-edge industrial era? Like we mentioned earlier, they do take over particular job functions that potentially lead to increasing number of unemployment. Yet, the takeover does not necessarily toss away human workforce. The human is still required for strategic job functions.
For example, a manufacturing company will need more employees who have the ability to operate the interconnected device and skill to interpret real-time information resulted from the analytic machine.
The growing demand of the workforce with digital skills opens more opportunity to new structures in companies. In other words, whilst Industry 4.0 let the robots take over some job functions; it generates the brand new ones at the same time.
Bridging the skills gap
Although there is a great deal of unemployment and there is plenty of vacancy in the new job functions that need to be fulfilled, the employers find it difficult to find the potential employees for the position as the skill sets involved is way too different than before. Many manufacturers realize that they are ‘fishing’ in the talent pool, which has little talents with required skills.
In order to bridge the increasing skills gap, employers need to manage existing employees, recruit and retain new employees, and have a long-term human resource management strategy. There are several efforts that the employers can do:
1.Retraining the existing employees
Employers can divert the existing employees to fill the new position by providing digital training in the first place. It is also beneficial for the employers since the existing ones already have sufficient knowledge related to manufacturing, which can only be obtained by the years of work experience that the new employee might not have. However, before that, companies may need to find out and make a list of criteria of the existing employees who have the potential to be trained. This approach should be prioritized as it is an efficient way for the transition in terms of cost and time.
2. Recruiting employees with the required digital skills
Digital skills are a broad domain that includes a variety of technologies and activities. Not all digital skills can be transferred through training and not all employees can be given the training. Therefore, companies need to recruit employees with required digital skills.
The companies need to invest in the process of recruitment by conducting pre-employment screening that is extensive and tailored to the needs of the industry. Pre-employment screening, in addition to getting the right employee, is also a necessity to minimize the ever-increasing risk in Industry 4.0
3. Mentoring new employees
This approach is commonly called a “buy and build”. Although the company successfully hires new employees who have the digital skills, they might not have the deep knowledge related to manufacturing that can only be obtained from the years of work like any senior employee does. In fact, as the senior employees leave the company, they bring the knowledge with them leaving the company with the bewildered skilled employees. To overcome this problem, companies need to ‘build’ new employees by appointing a senior employee to be their mentor.