Industry 4.0 and The Workforce Shortage for Manufacturers

Industrial manufacturers today face several pressing challenges. High interest rates, inflation, and enduring supply chain challenges are some of these, but perhaps most worrying is the massive workforce shortage facing the industry.

This severely impacts organizations’s attempts to embrace the benefits of Industry 4.0.

According to recently published data by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, manufacturers could need as many as 3.8 million new workers by 2033, while around 1.9 million of those positions could go unfilled if current labor challenges are not solved.  

Stephanie Ferguson, director of Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, notes that “We hear from businesses across every state and every industry that they cannot find the workers that they need.”

The Chamber’s own research corroborates this: as of January 2024, 622,000 manufacturing job openings had yet to be filled

The Deloitte and MI report details how manufacturers need workers at every level, but especially in technical roles. 

“Higher-level skills will likely be required as manufacturers continue their journey toward Industry 4.0, which could add to the skills gap. However, tight labor markets have also created an applicant gap, which has challenged manufacturers’ ability to fill roles across all skill levels.”

This dovetails with the move towards Industry 4.0, as companies endeavor to digitize and implement more AI and other smart technologies to drive efficiencies and unlock value. 

For example, the report notes that demand for industrial machinery maintenance technicians, which comprised 270,000 manufacturing workers in 2022, is expected to jump 16% by 2032. So what we’re seeing is high demand and low supply for skilled manufacturing workers. 

“Attracting and retaining talent is the primary business challenge indicated by over 65% of respondents in the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) outlook survey for the first quarter of 2024.”

How might companies use this information to their advantage? 

One answer is in leveraging technology to overcome the challenge and get ahead of competitors. 

Seizing The Industry 4.0 Opportunity

A comprehensive article in Plastics Machinery and Manufacturing (PMM) noted that “The cost of worker attrition over the past few years is evident in other ways, too. Sapped of experience and institutional knowledge, manufacturers might see reduced productivity and even safety lapses” (emphasis added). 

It quoted Jorge Gomar, an expert consultant to the plastics industry, in saying “That next baseline would be really thinking through some of these new applications around automation, technology, digitization and the workforce, and having the right skill sets to be able to manage those kinds of situations.

The opportunity here is in providing skilled workers with the technological tools to be successful and increase satisfaction – resulting in attracting and retaining the best talent. 

Conforming this, Gomar added, “I would say if there’s a company that is not thinking about that right now, they should, because what’s going to happen is I think there’s going to be step-changing productivity in the next couple of years and you want to make sure you set your foundation now. Don’t wait until you’re not competitive.”  

What Can Be Done Today

“Technology can help engage and empower workers—and make their jobs better, safer, and easier,” say the authors of “Taking charge: Manufacturers support growth with active workforce strategies.” 

They note that “Technology plays an important role in shaping the future of workforce development. It can act as a magnet in both attracting and retaining skilled individuals. As gleaned from our interviews, high-tech manufacturing environments seem to appeal to the workforce.”

There are technological capabilities that can be added today to leverage Industry 4.0 elements in providing your workforce – current and future – with the tools for success. 

The first of these is Korra’s AI-powered Knowledge Base solution. Korra is changing the way businesses access and utilize existing but difficult-to-access institutional knowledge: unleashing the latent power within internal repositories, and converting them into game-changing actionable insights through advanced AI. 

The platform ingests all content types to provide trustworthy and accurate answers that were previously unattainable before this technology entered the market, offering a complete discovery experience: from quick insights to in-depth answers. 

Built on a foundation of privacy and with an exceptionally user-friendly onboarding experience and interface, Korra not only transforms your organization’s knowledge into a strategic asset, it empowers your workforce to join the Industry 4.0 revolution, leading to fewer skills shortages and more demand for positions within your company. 

Find out more by getting in touch immediately, or try it for yourself right now.

Our goal is to help people in the best way possible. this is a basic principle in every case and cause for success. contact us today for a free consultation. 

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