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The future of work in manufacturing

Job rules and the nature of work are changing in what’s called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We examine what future manufacturing jobs will be like in the digital era.

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What will jobs look like in the digital era?

The manufacturing workforce has been absorbing new technology for more than two centuries. Today, the industry finds itself in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is poised to transform work at an unprecedented pace through exponential technologies such as artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and cognitive automation, advanced analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). And, contrary to some predictions, technology is likely to create more jobs than it destroys—as it has done historically.

Part of the challenge the industry faces is understanding how today’s jobs and associated skills are morphing into new jobs and career pathways that continue to evolve along with advanced technology. How can the manufacturing industry prepare for this future workplace and ready its workforce to work beside robots and advanced technologies? What are the skills that will become “must-haves” in the future workplace? What are the pathways for training and education to enable these skills? We begin by exploring what’s possible for future jobs in manufacturing.

Reimagining manufacturing jobs

To help manufacturing leaders and workers visualize the possibilities of the future, we’ve developed a series of personas that describe what jobs could look like in 2025. We have chosen to describe these 2025 jobs from the vantage point of the workers themselves, exploring how their work has changed, what kinds of skills and career pathways they have, the types of digital tools that assist them in their work, and what a normal day on the job looks like.

Bringing these future jobs to life can help business leaders, workers, educators, and policymakers shape their vision and spark conversations around what needs to change to make this happen. These future personas represent our ongoing research on skills gaps and the future of work in manufacturing, and reflect several important themes.

Explore the personas

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