INTEGR8 2024 PLAYBOOK #2 - Future-Ready Workforce: Navigating Digital Transformation Feature

Automation Alley
February 28, 2024
Download PDF


Industry 4.0 marks a significant shift in technology and automation, prompting the need for continuous upskilling and reskilling to adapt to evolving job demands. Read how a consortium of industry, academia, and government stakeholders plan to address this workforce issue in this Integr8 2024 Playbook main feature story.

Industrial revolutions are defined by change. The first industrial revolution saw the mechanization of production processes and a dramatic shift in how products were created. Fast-forward to today, and we are now in the midst of another major transformation – the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 is ushering in a new era of technology and automation-driven productivity, with advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI), additive manufacturing, advanced robotics, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT) transforming the way businesses operate around the world. As these technologies are adopted, they will fundamentally change the way we work and how employees interact with employers. 

Automation Alley has had the privilege of consulting with some of the manufacturing sector's leading stakeholders to discuss the implications of Industry 4.0 and what it means for businesses in the sector today and in years to come. We regularly hear from employers who are concerned about how these new technologies will affect their workforce, leading us to ask: What does being 'future-ready' look like?

Upskilling and Reskilling

The First Industrial Revolution changed the world in a big way. The machines it introduced effectively transformed the way we work and live, taking us from the age of manual labor to one of automated efficiency. But with that technological advancement came the need for human advancement as well — our ancestors had to get on board with the change by acquiring new skills or risk being left behind, from the waterwheel in the 1st century BC to the adoption of computers in the late 20th century.

“In today's rapidly evolving world, digital fluency and adaptability are non negotiables,” said CPI President Jack Van Tiem. “Fear of change can be a crippling barrier to both, hindering personal and organizational growth. Let's ignite a passion for transformation by empowering individuals to conquer their fear and unlock their full potential in the face of change.”

Everyday businesses and workers are facing a new level of technological sophistication with the onset of Industry 4.0, calling for the development of a host of skills and professional specialties that didn't exist a matter of decades ago. Think of the prevalence of web developer roles today in comparison to 30 years ago. In 2023, we saw the rise of AI positions skyrocket. On Indeed, AI positions have increased by nearly 4,000% in the last year, while jobs for generative AI have increased by 306%.

It’s no longer enough to know how to build and maintain machines. Today, companies have to be able to troubleshoot them, monitor their performance in real time, program them from scratch, and sell their capabilities to a digital global audience. Among the most in-demand tech and IT skills today include cloud computing, blockchain technology, and cybersecurity. Programming languages such as Python, C++, R, and Java have tremendous functional utility in AI and software-defined networking (SDN) as well. 

In addition to these technical skills, new soft skills have become essential, too: Problem-solving, collaboration and communication, critical thinking, and creativity. In the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023, the soft skill of “creative thinking” topped all other skills in increasing importance for surveyed organizations. Skill-Based Talent Management May Be the Solution Skill-based talent management is an approach to staffing in which candidates are hired based on their potential to grow and learn. It differs from the traditional system many people are used to, where job applicants' chances of landing a position rely on preexisting credentials and experience. The thought is that by identifying individuals with the right base competencies early on, companies can position themselves to grow their workforce's long-term resilience. Prospective employees are new and ready to learn with the ability to adapt as the industry around them changes.

A report from McKinsey found “hiring for skills is five times more predictive of job performance than hiring for education and more than two times more predictive than hiring for work experience.” However, leadership is imperative when adopting this approach. 

"As leaders, we can be the trusted guides who help people bridge the gap between fear and fulfillment. We can inspire them to embrace new skills and see the limitless possibilities that change offers,” Van Tiem said. 

“Witnessing someone conquer their fear and blossom with newfound skills is a powerful testament to the transformative power of embracing change. Let's create a culture where growth is celebrated, and potential is always waiting to be discovered."

Continue reading this main feature story within the full Integr8 Playbook here

Sign up today for a free Essential Membership to Automation Alley to keep your finger on the pulse of digital transformation in Michigan and beyond.

Automation Alley
Automation Alley

Automation Alley is a nonprofit technology business association and Digital Transformation Insight Center focused on driving the growth and success of businesses in Michigan and beyond through innovation and automation. With a global outlook and a regional focus, we foster a vibrant community of innovators, entrepreneurs, and business leaders through opportunities for collaboration and learning. Our programs and services help businesses develop the skills and expertise needed to effectively jumpstart or accelerate digital transformation. By bringing together industry, academia, and government, we aim to create a dynamic ecosystem that drives innovation and growth across Michigan.

Become a Member