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The Transformation of Manufacturing: Talent Management Considerations

Part 2 of 3. This article is based on the findings in the report, Understanding the Impacts of Industry 4.0 on Manufacturing Organizations and Workers, prepared for the Smart Factory Institute and written by Chris Cunningham, PhD, UC Foundation Professor of Psychology, and Scott Meyers, Graduate Assistant, Psychology Department & Smart Factory Institute, from the Industrial and Organizational Psychology Department at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

All the effects of Industry 4.0 on the manufacturing industry and workforce create opportunities and challenges for the broader management of talent within these organizations. Failing to respond to these talent management challenges will prevent manufacturing organizations from realizing the benefits of Industry 4.0 advancements. Only organizations that effectively leverage their people-based organizational resources such as workforce talent, technical expertise, and training and development opportunities to create and sustain organizational capabilities will thrive (Avitia-Carlos et al., 2019; Babatunde, 2020; Shet & Pereira, 2021). To do this, manufacturers will need to actively attract, retain, and develop emerging and existing talent. These critical talent management considerations can be summarized into the following functional categories: talent recruitment, acquisition, selection, and placement; talent training and development; and ongoing talent management. In this second of the three-part series, we will explore talent training and development. If you missed Part 1 of this 3 part series, click here.

Talent Training and Development

For manufacturing organizations to fully benefit from Industry 4.0 advancements, it will be imperative for their existing and emerging workforces to continuously train and develop to stay informed and competent with evolving technologies (Strack et al. 2021). Overall, Industry 4.0 requires a higher level of knowledge and skill in the general manufacturing workforce than what is widely present at this time (Brutto, 2012). Only so much of this new talent to meet these industry demands can be recruited, and for smaller manufacturing firms, such capabilities may be even lower. Therefore, training and development strategies will be required to reskill and upskill the existing workforce for new jobs/tasks and to ensure that emerging talent is sufficiently competent to perform well in an Industry 4.0 work environment.

Perhaps the most pronounced training and development challenge right now is that existing programs and curricula will not be generally sufficient to facilitate complete competence development for all manufacturing workers. In part, this is due to longstanding deficits in the quality of traditional training and development offerings. In one industry survey, only 4% of respondents reported their companies delivering excellent and consistent training and development opportunities, 75% reported their company not having a structured training program for manufacturing skills, and 76% similarly reported their organization’s training offerings were not adequate to meet future needs (BizLibrary, n.d.). Another factor in the present context is that Industry 4.0 advancements are continuing to develop, emerge, and be implemented. For this reason, there will need to be ongoing monitoring, designing, and administering of updated trainings over time as new technologies come online.

Overall, talent training and development will remain essential talent management components to organizational efforts to adopt and benefit from Industry 4.0 advancements. A variety of content delivery platforms and training formats will likely be utilized, and the exact contents of these programs will need to evolve along with the actual manufacturing technologies and ways of working. These trainings must not only be reactive to new industry shifts but also proactive in preparing the workforce for future demands. One certainty to highlight now is that the full benefits of Industry 4.0 are likely only to be experienced in manufacturing organizations that invest not only in advanced technologies but also in well-designed and targeted training and development resources to ensure their workforce can stay current and competent over time.

Let us be Your Training Provider

Engaging the workforce starts with training and development. Peak Performance offers a variety of instructor-led and online training courses, developed to meet the needs of manufacturers to skill their workforce to meet the demands of Industry 4.0 technological advancements. Our versatile course library includes offerings in categories such as Lean Tools, Green Belt, Leadership Development, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, and more. Reach out and connect with us by scheduling a consult with a training expert to discuss your specialized in-person or online training & consulting needs today.

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