4IR-ready manufacturers develop both people and technology – World Economic Forum

  • New manufacturing opportunities are expected to create 133 million jobs in the next four years due to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), but an estimated 75 million jobs are likely to be lost to technology development at the same time.
  • Manufacturers must prioritise their people and their technology to thrive in the 4IR age.
  • Emerging best practice in this area involves attracting and engaging with talent, and working with third parties to develop the skills of both current and future employees, as well as third parties such as suppliers.

We live in one the most exciting ages ever – the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Digital transformation, and technology more broadly, increasingly form an integral part of life, giving humanity a unique opportunity to rethink and redesign the way they source, produce, deliver, and consume. And this is not only to boost productivity and growth, but also to generate new value for workers, society and the environment.

Manufacturing accounts for about 22% of global employment, yet the majority of manufacturing companies still lack a clear strategy on how best to equip their workforce with the required capabilities for this new age. The 4IR could lead to the displacement of an estimated 75 million jobs worldwide in the next four years. At the same time, it is expected that new opportunities could create 133 million new jobs – a net positive of 58 million new 4IR roles by 2022.

So, how can organizations thrive in the age of the 4IR? The answer is simple: the future of manufacturing is not just about technology, it’s about developing both technology and people. Here are three manufacturing best practices that optimize both the skills of people and the use of machines:

1) Talent attraction and engagement

While technology has made everything more efficient, it is usually by adding a mix of talent and skills that companies are successful. All systems, processes and technologies fall flat when we don’t have the right people to work with them. Now, more than ever, organizations need to hire the best talent available and build a strong employer brand. Moreover, companies need to actively engage their employees in the design and implementation of their digital strategies – from senior management to shopfloor staff. This will ease technology adoption throughout the organization, rather than pushing through acceptance of new systems and tools from the top down.

When brewing company Heineken wanted to highlight the importance it places on its people, it created a series of videos featuring the stories of current Heineken employees that work in a variety of positions and locations. The intent and effect of the campaign was to show that the brand revolves around the unique personalities and ambitions of the employees.

General Electric (GE) also repositioned itself as a digital industrial company with an employer branding strategy using modern commercials. One of these videos, “What if Millie Dresselhaus, Female Scientist, Was Treated Like a Celebrity?”, attracted lots of social media views and engagement for the multinational conglomerate.

2) Upskilling and reskilling

Manufacturing …….


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