‘Reskilling’ Will Help Revitalize Manufacturing

Machines taking over the workforce seems to be a worrying issue amongst manufacturers; however, it may not be a huge cause for concern. While the need for brute-force manufacturing jobs is declining, other fields are growing at an equal rate. Technology is creating new needs that will fuel employment. As machine-operated manufacturing continues to develop, it will need more skilled workers to assemble and operate the new automated equipment.

How will employees that work in base-level jobs be able to find work in this new technological wave? It will take a large reskilling initiative. As basic manufacturing jobs fade out, these workers will need to take on new skills to adjust to the changing field. The World Economic Forum collaborated with The Boston Consulting Group to write an insight report, titled “Towards a Reskilling Revolution: A Future of Jobs for All”, that would discuss this very issue through a data-driven approach.

Written last year, the report discusses the challenges that manufacturing companies are going to face and lays out a structured path forward. The main strategy discussed for the employment issue is reskilling. The report uses big data analysis of online job postings to map out different job transitions from specific baseline level manufacturing jobs to more technological careers. It instructs companies on how to retrain their workers based on assessments of the educational, experience and training requirements of each job category.

The job transition guide is also helpful in recruiting new workers to train for certain tasks. Certain job categories may hold more potential for tasks that companies need, and now they can easily pinpoint which type of worker would have the greatest likelihood of success. While this is a viable option, some companies may have to outplace their workers because they don’t fulfill the requirements of higher positions. The report resolves this issue by offering guidance toward finding partner companies to outplace workers that don’t quite fit.

The main focus of the report is to keep Americans off all education levels active in the workforce. As jobs increasingly become more technology focused, a significant portion of the workforce is in risk of being left behind. This initiative allows manufacturing employees to learn new skills and stay relevant in the workplace alongside their more fortunate and educated colleagues. Employers will also feel the effects of this new reskilling revolution as they will face less difficulty trying to find skilled talent.

This year, the WEF will establish Industry Taskforces to look further into options for the future of manufacturing and the reskilling revolution.

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