“We must develop a comprehensive and globally shared view of how technology is affecting our lives and reshaping our economic, social, cultural, and human environments. There has never been a time of greater promise, or greater peril.” Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.
Industry 4.0 fascinates and scares me (maybe that’s just my age!). Automation will increase and as it does jobs in industry will become more skilled and more related to technology, data and innovation. Future employment could be further orientated towards services but even here human job opportunities will change. If I was embarking on a career today, where would I focus? Do future generations look to become experts in artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage or quantum computing?
Industry 4.0 will impact on all our futures. In the meantime, innovation in manufacturing is hampered by the very real threats from skills shortages and investment challenges in a benign global economy. Many manufacturing organisations are facing the twin challenges of preparing and dealing with the reality of the digital age, whilst also trying to cope with the here and now.
The tradition of generational expertise being handed down is threatened by the speed of change and this has knock on impacts into hiring processes – hire in the traditions of the business or hire for how the future will look? Industry has tended to retain the post-recession view of recruiting from within their industry or sector, searching for low risk options; like-minded people who have relevant technical expertise. Is this sensible? Surely the future winners will be those businesses prepared to challenge the norm and search widely for new inspiration, embracing the latest frontiers of human endeavour.
David Thomas is a Principal Consultant in the Engineering and Manufacturing Practice.