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

Automation Alley
February 26, 2024
Download PDF


Automation Alley is proud to present our second Integr8 2024 Playbook on the topic of workforce. This foreword, penned by Automation Alley CEO Tom Kelly and EMU Dean of College of Engineering and Technology Mohamad Qatu, sets in motion the complex conversation of workforce trends in a rapidly evolving Industry 4.0 landscape.

Between post-pandemic standards and the rapid advancement of technology, we’ve witnessed a seismic shift in the manufacturing workforce. Flexible work schedules are normalized, artificial intelligence is being deployed en masse across industries, and stuffy conference table meetings are largely replaced with digital talking heads in front of green-screened backgrounds.  

Aside from the most visual changes, work is more technologically complex as well. The skills gap widens with each new advancement in technology, requiring further specialization and a need for new training. Keeping up with these advancements is easier said than done.  

The industry needs collaboration between stakeholders in academia, business, and government to usher in new training programs to upskill and re-skill workers in the field of new manufacturing technology. And the time to collectively reinvest in the workforce is now.  

The manufacturing workforce is poised to grow, with new positions requiring a competent set of technical skills to succeed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the manufacturing workforce surpassed its pre-pandemic levels in 2023. Furthermore, there are approximately 250,000 more job openings in manufacturing than jobs being filled in September 2023.  

To bridge the skill gap, the industry must decide what are the most critical skills and competencies to be prioritized in a workforce development strategy. However, this can only happen with stakeholder collaboration. How can companies, academia and the government work together to alleviate the financial and time burden for workers to learn these required new skills?  

Lastly, the manufacturing workforce must prioritize job retention. Building a culture that can foster creativity, embrace innovation and take risks is a route to a more innovative business that can compete in the age of digital transformation. A Glassdoor survey found  77% of jobseekers consider a company’s culture before applying for a job. What inward and outward facing strategies should the industry focus on to build and retain workers?  

Automation Alley stands ready to bring stakeholders from all aspects of the manufacturing industry together to curate this important discussion. We extend our gratitude to each company and individual involved in creating this playbook. We look forward to serving you as the Digital Transformation Insight Center in all things workforce and beyond.

Read 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