Putting concerns about the manufacturing skills gap aside, I was interested to read a new report which explained how future manufacturing and supply chains will require new types of jobs—and people with new skillsets. Indeed, the descriptions for jobs such as collaborative robotics specialist, manufacturing cybersecurity strategist and enterprise digital ethicist explain how a workforce with advanced skills and knowledge will be needed for companies to remain competitive globally.


The “Digital Workforce Succession in Manufacturing” report, based on research conducted by UI LABS and ManpowerGroup, is intended as a resource of sorts companies can use to begin developing a talent pipeline for future jobs. The workforce analysis, which identifies 165 data-centric jobs, also describes the type and level of educational degree associated with each position, ranging from an AAS in Robotics Technology to a Ph.D. in Mathematics or Engineering.


“Digitization is transforming the job market, creating a need for people with more advanced skills in manufacturing, and our work with UI LABS is evidence of this,” says Jonas Prising, Chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup. “By mapping the digital roles and skills of the future, our research will help companies and schools upskill today’s manufacturing workforce for the connected, smart machine and augmented-technology jobs of an increasingly digital enterprise. This will help bridge the skills gap and highlights the advanced and attractive jobs emerging on the forefront of the manufacturing sector.”


I was interested to read about a few new jobs in particular. For example, the report explains that as the executive advocate for the growth and profitability of digital strategies and business opportunities, the Chief Digital Officer will orchestrate the collective pace of digital consideration and integration in both the customer experience and the company operations and cultural orientation. Taking into account the specific needs of the organization, the CDO will be tasked with identifying areas of improvement and implementing digital solutions, such as IIoT and automation, the report explains.


Then there are Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality System Specialists, who, according to the report, will work to apply VR/AR systems which support a product through its lifecycle. VR/AR systems offer the opportunity to engage the environment, product and peripheral support media in new ways that enhance the productivity of a workforce and create new value in products for customers, the authors note.


I was also interested to read about a growing need for Predictive Maintenance System Specialists, who use sensing, analytic and diagnostic systems on existing assets and infrastructure to monitor and predict performance and maintenance requirements. Their role primarily focuses on the application of sensor and real-time data-driven predictive maintenance, driving toward reduced asset downtime and reduced operations interruptions, however they also may work with more traditional preventative maintenance systems to gain an understanding of an asset’s prescribed maintenance requirements and estimated maintenance intervals.


Finally, I am intrigued by the role of Manufacturing Cybersecurity Strategist, who will manage the overall risk assessment, set cybersecurity goals, determine cybersecurity strategies and actions to achieve those goals, and set direction to ready and/or mobilize the resources to guard access and integrity of the digital data bank and networks of connected production assets. The Manufacturing Cybersecurity Strategist will be responsible for customer and corporate data privacy, designing a program that proactively reduces risk, maintains defenses and security, is operational, and is ready for disruptions.


These roles aren’t necessarily the most critical or highest value, but they do represent the types of changes the workforce is experiencing, the researchers emphasize. They also demonstrate the opportunities for manufacturers and the workforce alike—and represent targets for educators and workforce development programs, the report explains.


What are your thoughts on these future jobs? Secondly, how can educators and workforce development programs better train people for these jobs?