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Future IIoT Workforce Must Prepare for Jobs Not Even Created Yet

Digital transformations will put 20 billion devices online by 2020 (and that number could actually be closer to 50 billion). That’s five connected devices for every person on the planet.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies are enabling this transformation.

In a recent study by Manpower of 18,000 employers in 43 countries, 90 percent expect their organization to be impacted by digitalization in the next two years – and 83 percent of manufacturers will maintain or increase headcount.

That’s no surprise, since IoT technologies are predicted to create some $4 trillion in incremental value.  And the jobs that will be created will be more resilient and persistent high-tech jobs that require new skills.

What Digital Transformation Requires

We will have a skill gap of two million people in the next five years. No single company, university or institution has the answer; the only way we’ll close that skill gap and have the right people ready for these jobs is by working together.

The Institute for the Future estimates that 85 percent of the jobs in 2030 have yet to be created.  What does this mean for manufacturers who need to attract and retain employees?

As employers, know that the ability for an employee to gain knowledge will be more important than knowledge itself.

I see this today in my research and development labs: we are working on technologies today that didn’t exist a couple years ago.  If I hired just for experience, I’d be turning over my department every few years – and I wouldn’t be ready for what’s on the horizon.

Start Early in the STEM Pipeline

Digital transformations will require innovators – leaders, influencers and skilled employees – that can question the status quo.

Those innovators aren’t found. They are created through:

  • Education outreach and partnerships with organizations like FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), Project Lead the Way and ST Math that build STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills.
  • Collaboration with universities that foster new curriculum in IT and OT convergence and IIoT technologies.
  • Constant updating of certifications and continual learning.

These employees will have:  

  • Foundational skills.
  • High level understanding of the domain (current standards and regulations, customer preferences and what really adds value).
  • Familiarity with tools like wearables (virtual and augmented reality) to simulate experiences that are expensive and time consuming to gain.
  • The ability to learn critical new skills quickly (think micro certifications).

More Than Upskilling

While digital transformations will require skill upgrades at all levels, there’s an extremely important element of this that companies can’t overlook: company culture.

Company culture is the foundation of transformation. Without that foundation, employees with the right skills and a learning mindset will become frustrated and might even leave your company. To continue to power transformation and innovation, you must have a culture that supports both.


Dave Vasko
Dave Vasko
Director of Advanced Technology, Rockwell Automation
Dave Vasko
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