Times are changing and your workforce must evolve. Manufacturing will transform over the next few years, to become smarter, more data-driven and technology-enabled. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will require a new set of skills and knowledge.
Tomorrow’s leaders will be the organisations that focus on upskilling and reskilling existing workers, as well as hiring new talent – especially senior staff, who’ll be expected to oversee (and therefore understand) developments like automation and smart factories.
Industry 4.0 ushers in a host of in-demand skills like data analysis, user experience design and coding. Alongside this, soft skills will be needed as automation goes mainstream. Skills like creative thinking, strategic decision-making, teamwork, communication and empathy.
AI and humans must work harmoniously together. This requires a senior leader capable of understanding and facilitating human-robot interactions.
Plus, there are skills needed to navigate the ethical implications of emerging technology. 32 per cent of leaders see AI ethics as a key business challenge in the coming years. Senior staff must be equipped with enough knowledge to make difficult decisions regarding the use of AI.
So where can senior leaders begin to hone such skills?
Many providers have sprung up offering short courses in digital skills that fit into the working week. General Assembly is one such company, offering courses that cover a wide range of digital technologies and skills, over one day to a few weeks. Most courses take place on-site, in an office, co-working space or dedicated classroom.
Coursera is an online provider offering similar short courses on digital skills, transformation and strategy. Because it’s based online, senior leaders can learn whenever and wherever they want.
For a comprehensive overview of the Internet of Things (IoT) and building a business case and strategy for it, MIT runs a six to eight-week course for senior executives. It’s designed for leaders, taking five to six hours a week and covering IoT jargon, transformation and roadmap development.
Popularised by Jack Welch (of General Electric) in 1999, reverse mentoring pairs senior and junior employees together for the former to learn from younger tech-literate colleagues.
Mike Clasper CBE implemented such a scheme in HMRC. He learnt from a similar project that he’d launched at P&G, creating a programme that paired him with three reverse mentors. They came from a mix of backgrounds, experience and departments to give Clasper a better idea of HMRC, its challenges and what to prioritise in the future.
Growth is never possible if you don’t step outside your comfort zone and prepare for the future. Senior leaders should look outside their usual functions, considering how they can get to grips with a completely new area of the business. Understanding the day-to-day tasks for other departments, especially technical and data-heavy ones, will help leaders strategise and set priorities.
The future is coming for manufacturers, fast. To prepare, all employees must develop new skills and that includes senior staff. By leading from the top, senior management can better understand the changing landscape and the technologies shaping it. On this occasion, ignorance is not bliss.
Are you looking to take the first step in your Manufacturing and Engineering career? Or potentially looking for the perfect talent to hire? Get in contact with Theo James Recruitment.