5 Future Jobs that Could Solve the Manufacturing Skills Gap

Workforce research aims to equip workers for the smart factories of Industry 4.0.

Smart factories are a key aspect of the fourth industrial revolution, but a factory can’t evolve into a smart factory unless its workers evolve, too.

The skills gap has a lot of manufacturers wondering about what the future holds. Should employers offer more pay to entice existing talent? How can we encourage students to pursue STEM and skilled education?

As if finding skilled workers wasn’t hard enough, the industry is changing so fast that many careers end up being moving targets. Companies can’t implement cutting-edge digital solutions if their workforce doesn’t have the skills to use that new tech effectively.

Perhaps the solution to the skills gap isn’t in filling old jobs, but creating new roles that maximize the effectiveness of digital technologies.

According to a recent report by research institute UI Labs in collaboration with HR consultancy ManpowerGroup, that’s exactly what needs to happen.

“By mapping the digital roles and skills of the future, our research will help companies and schools upskill today’s manufacturing workforce for the connected, smart machine and augmented-technology jobs of an increasingly digital enterprise,” said ManpowerGroup CEO Jonathan Prising. “This will help bridge the skills gap and highlights the advanced and attractive jobs emerging on the forefront of the manufacturing sector.”

The report identifies 165 of those emerging roles—way too many to cover in a single article. Instead, here are five of the most interesting:

1. Chief Digital Officer (CDO)

Chief Digital Officers advocate for new technologies and envision how their companies can implement new ideas. Taking into account the specific needs of the organization, the CDO is tasked with identifying areas of improvement and implementing digital solutions, such as IIoT and automation.

2. Digital Manufacturing Engineer

A digital manufacturing engineer takes the vision of the CDO and makes it work. Their role includes designing and building new systems and processes that use advanced manufacturing technologies, like 3D printing. Reducing errors, increasing efficiency and designing manufacturing operations and systems are the main functions of this role.

3. Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality System Specialist

A VR/AR specialist finds manufacturing applications for these tools to support early product development, including design, engineering and analysis. These specialists find the best ways to provide workers with information, data and instructions, as well as supporting training, sales, and even product operation.

4. Worker Experience Designer

To avoid a skills shortage in your company, you need to do two things: retrain existing workers and attract new talent. Adapting to new on-the-job demands can be daunting for a worker (especially if they suspect their managers don’t really understand the new tech any better than they do). A Worker Experience Designer is there to streamline the interaction between operator and machine, whether that machine is a 3D printer or an inventory management app. This role is all about empowering and engaging workers, improving productivity and morale and reducing costs, inefficiencies and errors.

5. Digital Factory Automation Engineer

This person is always looking for ways to automate processes for improved productivity and quality. More specifically, a Digital Factory Automation Engineer impacts their workplace by upgrading obsolete manufacturing systems, with the goal of making information about processes and projects more accessible.

The skills gap is a real problem, but if companies can equip themselves with the roles they need to fulfill the promise of Industry 4.0, the future can look a little more navigable.

Check out the full workforce analysis here.

For more about automation and advanced manufacturing, click here.

Do you think these roles could benefit your workplace? Could you step into one of these jobs?

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