The Fourth Industrial Revolution, better known as Industry 4.0, now affects virtually every industrial sector around the globe and has begun to radically transform business operations. This unprecedented digital transformation has brought challenges and opportunities, including in terms of the sourcing and retention of key technical personnel and senior executives who can effectively manage change. Monroe Consulting Group Malaysia executive recruitment consultants Sarah Ariff and Avinash Kumar, both qualified engineers, share their views on automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, and the new approaches companies must consider to recruit key talent.
Intelligent robots. Mobile supercomputing. Self-driving cars. Industry 4.0 is beginning to take the world by storm. Previous industrial revolutions have included the introductions of steam power, mechanisation, assembly lines, mass production, computers, the Internet, automation, as well as bringing digital capabilities to billions of people. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is, however, a completely new ball game. It introduces artificial intelligence and automation whereby machines, devices, sensors, software, machine learning algorithms, computers and people will all fuse together in an entirely new way.
The basic principle of Industry 4.0 is to create intelligent networks along the entire value chain that can control each other autonomously by connecting the work pieces, machines and systems together. An example of this would be machines that can predict failures and trigger maintenance processes autonomously, or machines that can react to unexpected changes in production and self-organise. The new industrial revolution has shown that it is possible to connect billions more people to the digital networks, dramatically increasing the efficiency of organisations.
Now, these changes are happening and they are happening fast. How would this revolution affect the jobs that we have now? How will it create new jobs? What types of skills will be in demand? ‘Man and Machine in Industry 4.0,’ a report published by worldwide management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group, discusses how computerization and robotics will affect some 40 job categories in 23 industries. A few points from the report are worth mentioning here:
The volume of traditional assembly and production jobs will decline as the use of digital industries increases. For organizations to embrace the transition successfully, companies need to revamp their organisational models, retrain their workforce, and develop strategic approaches in the recruitment process as well as workforce planning. Even though Industry 4.0 will cause significant changes in the industrial ecosystem with the creation of new jobs while making others obsolete, factories as we know them will not completely disappear. Ingo Ruhmann, IT systems adviser to Germany's Ministry of Education and Research, said: “Complete automation is not realistic. Technology will mainly increase productivity through digital and physical assistance systems, not the replacement of human labour”.
The introduction of Industry 4.0 will see manufacturing jobs becoming less repetitive and less physically demanding. However, they will require workers to think faster on their feet, become problem solvers, and display greater flexibility. The new jobs will have titles such as industrial data scientist, IT solutions architect, user-interface designer, robot coordinator, as well as jobs we cannot even think of now. There was no such thing as ‘data analysts” 20 years ago, for example, to embrace and transition smoothly into this new Industrial Revolution, new approaches to recruit people need to be considered by companies, whereby they should focus on capabilities rather than qualifications determined by roles and degrees. As employees will most probably work on a variety of tasks unrelated to their academic education, recruiters must look beyond their qualifications and more toward identifying workers with relevant skills and capabilities for specific roles. Companies should work with government job agencies to develop a set of specific skills for the newly created roles, as well as design ways to assess candidates’ capabilities against these requirements. People who work in recruitment must update their skill sets to work effectively in this new environment. Monroe Consulting Group Malaysia, an international award recruitment company, focuses on recruitment in a number of key sectors, including industry, manufacturing, technology and consumer goods, and has played a vital role in helping job candidates and our client companies transition toward Industry 4.0.
At the heart of Monroe’s ongoing success has been the company’s ability to source and recruit passive jobseekers, who are essentially executives who are satisfied in their current roles and not actively exploring alternative career options. As Industry 4.0 disrupts a number of sectors, competition for the services of these desirable candidates will only increase.
While Monroe Malaysia has a proven successful track record securing the services of these target candidates, it will also be increasingly necessary for skilled recruiters to cast their nets even further afield. Recruitment professionals, who must have a deep understanding about the industry and technology sectors, must look beyond paper qualifications and even experience, and consider other more intangible qualities in candidates such as problem-solving abilities, multiple skill sets, increased diversity, flexibility and a desire to constantly learn and evolve.
Working with recruitment companies provides potential job candidates with a much more structured recruitment process, including a fuller picture of the specific information about the job, the formulation of a relevant and effective curriculum vitae and cover letter, preparation for an interview and a guide through salary and benefit negotiations.
Companies looking to embrace Industry 4.0 will also need to expand their respective working relationships with recruitment agencies across the full spectrum of the recruitment process, including the formulation of detailed job descriptions, more effective identification of the range of target candidates and managing what can often be unreasonably high salary expectations. In addition companies must become more flexible in a number of areas, including in terms of diversity and offering flexible working hours.