What is Industry 4.0 and how it is affecting jobs?

Industry 4.0 is a name given to the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing. Industry 4.0 is commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.

Industry 4.0 fosters what has been called a “smart factory”. Within modular structured smart factories, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. Over the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real-time both internally and across organizational services offered and used by participants of the value chain.

The term “Industry 4.0” was revived in 2011 at the Hannover Fair. In October 2012 the Working Group on Industry 4.0 presented a set of Industry 4.0 implementation recommendations to the German federal government.

The advent of Industry 4.0 will bring with it an increase in dominance and reliance on technology to produce far-reaching efficiencies across a wide variety of sectors. The revolution of Industry 4.0 is giving manufacturers faster, more flexible, and more efficient processes to produce higher-quality goods and at lower costs. But one of the biggest changes is to the workforce.

According to the 2018 Global Trends report released by LinkedIn, 76% of recruiters and hiring managers think that the 4th Industrial Revolution, or more specifically automation and AI, will have a significant impact on the recruitment industry. Specialist recruiters, especially within sectors that are highly vulnerable to automation, may need to upskill or shift their focus to a new discipline to stay in the game.

Recruitment firm which deals heavily with the engineering and manufacturing industry, see the knock-on effect of industry changes to jobs. Lots of IoT and AR are now in job descriptions and firms seek more technical and technology-focused candidates so that they can adapt to the constantly changing environment.

Although experts predict that Industry 4.0 will reduce labour, more firms saying that job vacancies are increasing.

A recent study released by McKinsey Global Institute found that roughly one-fifth of the global workforce will be impacted by the adoption of AI and automation, with the most significant impact in developed nations like the UK, Germany and US. By 2022, 50% of companies believe that automation will decrease their numbers of full-time staff and by 2030, robots will replace 800 million workers across the world.

Industry 4.0 encompasses a number of new technologies including VR, AI and cloud technology which automatically causes issues. One of the challenges that comes with modern technology is the new skills that are needed from employees to run the machines, code up new processes and the ability to fix new devices. Across the board, skills need to develop.

The skills gap within the engineering and manufacturing sector is no new issue. The Manufacturer report highlights that 71% of manufacturers believe apprenticeships are fast becoming a real alternative to higher education. New workers can and should be learning from the highly skilled and experienced employees already embedded in the workforce.

By encouraging individuals to start a career in the sector early, companies can train and develop staff as experts and evolve them with the new technology that’s on the horizon.

Engaging with teenagers and young adults, incorporating them into businesses through apprenticeships and work placement programmes has exceptional benefits, especially within Industry 4.0.

Machine operators and technicians play a critical role in most manufacturing and engineering businesses. Alongside recruitment into these roles, there is also a need to upskill those already in organisations.

Upskilling machine operators to diagnose faults and repair machines at source should mean that productivity will increase.

According to the Higher Education 16 /17 report, over 1 million university students studied a STEM related course. STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.

Universities need to change their syllabus to be relevant to Industry 4.0 technologies. However, due to the longevity of creating up to date courses, it’s possible that universities can fall behind.