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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Strategies to Transform Your Workforce for IoT

How can companies systematically drive workforce transformation?

Transformation can be a scary word for people and organizations, especially for employees who fear that automation, digitization, and the Internet of Things could be a threat to their jobs and their economic futures. At the same time, in today’s tight labor market, manufacturers need to retain their workforces and drive employee engagement. This is challenging when approximately 60% of workers lack basic digital skills.

Strategic workforce development plans are critical for building a future-proof workforce and HR must collaborate with other business divisions to ensure sustainable impact.

Strategies to Transform Your Workforce for IoT

Strategic workforce development plans are critical for building a future-proof workforce and HR must collaborate with other business divisions to ensure sustainable impact.
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Biographies

Josh Angel
Josh Angel
Josh Angel
Josh Angel
Vice President
Digital Transformation Industries and Real Estate, Siemens Advanta
Marianne Donoghue
Marianne Donoghue
Marianne Donoghue
Marianne Donoghue
Senior Director of Talent Programs
LIFT (Learning Innovations for Tomorrow)
Sebastian Herrmann
Sebastian Herrmann
Sebastian Herrmann
Sebastian Herrmann
Consulting Partner
Siemens Advanta

Context

Josh Angel, Marianne Donoghue, and Sebastian Herrmann discussed how manufacturers can grow digital competencies in their existing employee bases while meeting business needs. They also shared how companies can attract new talent from the younger generations.

Key Takeaways

To bridge the workforce skills gap, manufacturers must focus on technology and employee development.
To bridge the workforce skills gap, manufacturers must focus on technology and employee development.
Technology and workforce development are converging and must be considered together as manufacturers tackle workforce challenges and develop their businesses. A wide variety of technologies are transforming the workplace. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are the foundation of predictive maintenance and data analytics. Manufacturers are looking at data contextualization, the convergence of IT and OT data, and the development of IoT platforms and applications. Advanced manufacturing relies on technologies like 3D printing, digital twins of parts, and simple digital work instructions. In terms of the shop floor and supply chain traceability, augmented reality and mixed virtual reality are also playing an important role.
On the workforce side, manufacturers must reach students at a younger age. Many people still have an outdated view of manufacturing, which is a huge disservice to the industry and the workforce. STEM in manufacturing is a lucrative, in-demand, and stable career path. Talking about manufacturing technologies like robotics and AI can make this sector more attractive to young people. Vocational training programs are an effective model for bringing younger people into the industrial world at an earlier stage to bridge workforce skill gaps. It is also essential to reach out to existing manufacturing employees to discuss the benefits of upskilling.
“We’re in an exciting convergence of technology and workforce in manufacturing. We have to acknowledge, however, that technology alone won’t run the industry or the critical infrastructure that is the core of manufacturing. It takes a human touch that complements technology.”

– Josh Angel, Siemens Advanta

As Baby Boomers retire, industrial manufacturing companies need to rethink how they attract and retain talent.

Baby Boomers, with five to 10 years left in their careers, represent about half the workforce at industrial manufacturing companies. The other half consists of younger employees, many of whom are digital natives. Manufacturers must leverage the new capabilities that younger workers possess, while managing the loss of skills and institutional knowledge as older employees retire. This transition needs to be handled in a structured way, through upskilling measures, mentoring paths, and more.

 

To attract and retain younger workers, manufacturers must focus on two questions:

1

What does the future of
the company look like?
What does the future of the company look like?
Manufacturers must think about this in a structured way and then consider which workforce skills will be needed to support this vision.

2

What type of work environment will
encourage employees to stay?
What type of work environment will encourage employees to stay?
In the past, the biggest incentive for employees was their salary/hourly rate. Now, people want to feel valued for their skills.
“Students need to recognize that manufacturing isn’t just about an hourly job. They can grow within a company and move upward. We need to work with counselors and teachers in K-12 systems to reinforce this message. University for everybody isn’t the best option and skilled trades could be a good option for 4.0 students.”

– Marianne Donoghue, LIFT

In the short term, creative approaches are required to address workforce challenges.

Operation Next
LIFT works with different organizations to transition people to industrial work. Operation Next, for example, is targeted at military and National Guard employees. This program provides tuition to attend skilled trades training, such as robotics, welding, CNC operations, or industrial maintenance.
Employee Training
Recently, a manufacturer urgently needed CNC operators. To address this pressing need, the company worked with LIFT to train employees as CNC operators. The manufacturer sent employees to Michigan for a week of training and paid for their travel and accommodations. This program benefited both the company and the employees.
Reskilling Staff
Creative approaches to reskilling staff like these are critically important. One of the biggest challenges facing the current workforce is supporting their families. Most people can’t take a month off from work to participate in training. Going to classes at night and on weekends can also be difficult.
Hybrid Approach
LIFT has taken a hybrid approach to its training programs. At home, students conduct simulations and learn theory on their computers at a time that is convenient for them. In-person meetings are devoted to hands-on learning. Hybrid learning means makes upskilling opportunities more attainable for people already in the workforce.

Now is the time to take a strategic approach to workforce development.

Manufacturers must analyze their company strategies, identify their workforce requirements, evaluate the current state of their workforce, and design targeted training programs to fill the gaps. Workforce development needs to be managed as a holistic program and the process needs to start today.
Knowledge transfer can begin with small steps.
Implementing new technology can take months.
Gaining transparency into the existing workforce is essential.
Technology can be used to improve the employee experience.
Manufacturers need to promote careers, not jobs.
Over time, manufacturers must evolve their training programs.

To become an employer of choice, manufacturers must be purpose-driven and accommodate both career and gig workers.

To bridge the workforce skills gap, manufacturers must focus on technology and employee development.
Younger generations of workers want to make a positive mark on the world. Manufacturers need to communicate their purpose in compelling, genuine, and understandable ways and then live it. The gig economy also demands that manufacturers take a new approach to work. Employees show up for a gig because they want to work on interesting projects; their motivation is seldom purely monetary. Most companies, however, are set up for lifelong employment, not for quick onboarding and offboarding of gig workers. Manufacturers must create structures and processes that will work for both types of work models.
“Institutional change is required if manufacturers want to participate in the gig economy and tap into talent pools like data scientists and software developers. It’s a big task to act on. Companies must create structures and processes that work for both types of work models.”

– Sebastian Herrmann, Siemens Advanta

Additional Resources

Strategies to Transform Your Workforce for IoT

Strategic workforce development plans are critical for building a future-proof workforce and HR must collaborate with other business divisions to ensure sustainable impact.

 

 

Strategies to Transform Your Workforce for IoT
Josh Angel, Marianne Donoghue, and Sebastian Herrmann discussed how manufacturers can grow digital competencies in their existing employee bases while meeting business needs. They also shared how companies can attract new talent from the younger generations.
Download Summary PDFOpens in a new window.

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