Industrial production was transformed by steam power in the nineteenth century, electricity in the early twentieth century, and automation in the 1970s. These waves of technological advancement did not reduce overall employment, however. Although the number of manufacturing jobs decreased, new jobs emerged and the demand for new skills grew. Today, another workforce transformation is on the horizon as manufacturing experiences a fourth wave of technological advancement: the rise of new digital industrial technologies that are collectively known as Industry 4.0.
How will this next wave of industrial evolution play out? Will it create or destroy jobs? How will job profiles evolve? And what types of skills will be in demand? The answers to these questions are critical to business leaders and policy makers as they seek to take full advantage of the opportunities arising from Industry 4.0 by ensuring that an appropriately skilled workforce is in place to capture them.
To understand how the industrial workforce will evolve with Industry 4.0, we looked at the effects that these new technologies will have on Germany’s manufacturing landscape, which is among the world’s most advanced.