Manuel Macedo
President
Honeywell Latin America
/
Expert Contributor

Technology: Driver of New Talent for Industry 4.0?

By Manuel Macedo | Tue, 04/26/2022 - 13:00

For an increasingly digitalized workforce, today’s global industries present a promising future, regardless of their business focus, as the adoption of digitalization advances. With automated operations, integrated solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and next-generation connectivity – 5G –, to name a few, we can be sure Industry 4.0 is here to stay. As digital technology evolves, we will require prepared professionals to face the next challenges.

The labor market for people who are in STEM specialized careers – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – is broad. Every day, companies are eager to add them to their ranks but the learning curve for new requirements that come with Industry 4.0 is steep. The demand is high and although the talent of today’s younger generations is unquestionable, the number of professionals available for needed vacancies is insufficient.

As defined in a study by Statista, 54 percent of the companies in 2020 claimed to have a shortage of talent in technology, irrespective of the impact of the world pandemic. Today, according to the same report, the five skills with the fewest number of available professionals are: cybersecurity, organizational change management, business architecture, advanced analytics and technical architecture.

In the case of Mexico, the problem is aggravated by the gap of available technical talent due to insufficient numbers of students in STEM careers. A report by Manpower revealed that, in the country, the shortage of talent affected 52 percent of employers for manufacturing, technical and engineering positions, skilled trades – driving and logistics, technicians – quality controllers and technical personnel, among others.

Additionally, companies in general are facing a generational transition that has complicated the technical training of their personnel. Veteran experts complete their cycle and start their retirement early, so their knowledge and experience do not get fully leveraged to guide and complete the training of the incoming generation of talent.

So how can companies help minimize the impact of the lack of highly skilled workers, whether due to low availability in the market or the rapid exodus of veteran experts?

A solution that businesses have found for the challenges of this generational change is the use of technology. For example, smart augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) headsets are used to guide novice technicians through processes that require specific knowledge or skill development.

By connecting in real time, the expert can guide the new talent remotely in the process, through voice prompts, pointing out the parts that should be adjusted and even projecting diagrams of the machinery under maintenance. These types of technological tools aim to increase productivity and reduce training time by up to 60 percent.

In this way, new technicians and engineers can learn in practical ways with the guidance of experts, who can share their knowledge without having to move from one place to another – a factor that used to minimize the number of individuals the experienced technician could manage. Through this solution, companies can hire local personnel with basic knowledge and without the need for prior knowledge to deal with more complex situations.

Another solution that companies have used to train new elements has been the implementation of smart devices that accompany technicians in each of the tasks assigned for their workday. The devices have interfaces with touch screens, sound reproduction and transmission, as well as a connection to the cloud. This means they are portable and can immediately update the progress of a task, allowing operational management systems to receive and display progress in real-time. Indeed, with this type of distance training, it is possible to save time and increase productivity of new hires or existing employees.

The challenges and opportunities of Industry 4.0 have allowed us to migrate our operations and advance in digital transformation across several business operations. Integrating technological solutions to other processes, such as job training, will allow us to further advance in the digitalization of the world.

To conclude, challenges faced by companies to incorporate new talent prepared for industry 4.0 in Mexico and elsewhere in the world have a multifactor solution. First, companies must do their best to support and encourage younger generations to study STEM careers. By partnering with educational organizations, companies can foster and accelerate the recruitment and development of these talents.

Second, it is important to use technology to accelerate the digital learning curve of incoming talent and to leverage the experience of veteran workers for on-the-job training of the new workforce.

The technical and engineering capacity and potential that exists in the country makes Mexico an attractive destination for investment, added to the experience in different industries. No doubt, Mexico is a strategic hub due to its location and talent; nevertheless, the opportunity to strengthen the supply of professionals is still there.

We must understand that innovation doesn’t come from abstract entities, as companies are sometimes perceived. Each organization depends on the talent of its employees. Innovative ideas are born from professionals, their interactions with colleagues, their creative ideas and their collaboration at work. Investing in the development of talent and technology for the immediate future means creating favorable conditions for the evolution of industries and, as a result, boost the growth of productivity, competitiveness as well as the economy of any country.

Photo by:   Manuel Macedo