Building an Industry 4.0 Workforce for the Future - Panel Discussion Highlights

Building an Industry 4.0 Workforce for the Future - Panel Discussion Highlights

Industry 4.0 is a much discussed topic in the manufacturing world as it has the ability to create faster, more efficient and flexible processes that produce higher-quality goods at lower costs. But while those are all great benefits, the new technology doesn’t work without a skilled workforce. The skills gap in the manufacturing industry is already extensive and figuring out how to get newly skilled workers, while training current workers, was the focus of last week’s Automate Forward panel discussion “Building an Industry 4.0 Workforce for the Future”.

Bishop-Wisecarver President, Pamela Kan, joined several other manufacturing industry leaders to discuss the benefits of Industry 4.0 technologies and the challenges in preparing the current and future workforce to succeed in this new era. Moderator Ted Rozier, Director of Engineering at Festo, covered multiple important viewpoints and solutions with panelists from education, non-profit, recruiting and manufacturing businesses.

While the event was last week, this panel discussion is available for viewing until April 2 and you can go to this Link for Free Registration.

Below are a few top-level highlights from the discussion:

Q: What competencies should be developed at the university level to prepare students to step into such an advanced technology era?

Monroe Kennedy, Assistant Professor at Stanford University, gave details around two main competencies to consider: first, considering the importance of robotics research and second, and equally as important, valuing diversity of thought and background.

Q: What has your organization learned from bringing together experts from so many different manufacturing sectors together to discuss the importance of Industry 4.0?

Carolyn Lee, Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute , discussed how her organization works with manufacturers around the country to look at helping two audiences be successful in the Industrial 4.0:  the workforce of today so they are able to access the upskilling needed to use all of the equipment and modern technology in facilities and second, the students who are future employees so they see the opportunities and careers available to them in manufacturing.


Q: How do you get workers to make a pivot to Industrial 4.0?


Michael Sullivan, Executive Recruiter at Miller Resource Group, encouraged students to research their potential colleges not just for the degree outcomes, but to get in the weeds to learn about career services and see how involved the school is with private and local businesses, which will help with their overall preparedness for Industrial 4.0 careers. For current workers, he encouraged everyone to find a company like Bishop-Wisecarver that has internal processes for upskilling and will help team members make that pivot even if they are no longer in school.


Q: Define what Industrial 4.0 methods you plan on implementing next.


After discussing the importance of continued data gathering technology implementation  from products and shop floors, Pamela Kan of Bishop-Wisecarver, also mentioned using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) tools for upskilling current and future workers.  She also emphasized that with Industrial 4.0,, the learning never ends and manufacturing is a job where people need to like to learn as staying relevant will mean continually evolving the tools used and knowledge gained.