6 Key Ideas for Overcoming the Skills Gap

Written By: David Immerman
  • 2/13/2020
  • Read Time : 3 min

We have entered a new decade, but a key challenge for industrial companies still persists: a looming skills gap and worker shortage. For many, a culture change and adoption of new learning methods will be required. Empowering workers with new technologies will improve training and knowledge transfer, as well as increase key operational KPIs.

In this blog, we’ve taken from our new Industry Hotlist newsletter, which is a roundup of the industry’s top stories we’ve curated to shed light on critical issues facing manufacturing and industry.

1. Critical Issues: Skills for the Future of Manufacturing

Synopsis: The World Manufacturing Forum published its 2019 report discussing critical issues facing workforce skill development in the manufacturing industry. Technological skills will represent the greatest increase in hourly work duties by 2030 as technology literacy becomes critical in manufacturing environments. While still having major economic implications, the skills gap will have less of an impact in the United States (0.4% of GDP), compared to globally (1.1% of GDP).

Key Takeaway: Among the many recommendations, WMF suggests the use of digital technologies to innovate in the delivery of education and training.

2. Harnessing Augmented Reality to Deliver Training More Effectively

Synopsis: Even with the skills gap facing industrial companies, the method by which they educate and correspondingly how their workers learn hasn’t changed. Our research shows information that is delivered on-demand and in-context improves knowledge retention, skills development, and key production metrics for organizations. This ‘Just-In-Time’ learning method delivered through innovative technologies including augmented reality is poised to greatly benefit the 2.7 billion global deskless workers.

Key Takeaway: Organizations need to look within themselves to reskill and upskill their workforce to meet new and emerging demands. Leveraging new training delivery options is essential.

3. The Work of the Future: Shaping Technology and Institutions

Synopsis: Technology advancements have generated significant promise, as well as skepticism as it will have major implications on the future of work and consequently, our role within it. Automation will undoubtedly change human work but its input into existing processes will vary and be either a substitution (for human work), complementary, or new task creation.

Key Takeaway: This MIT report presents a strong case that the future of work will ride on investing in job quality, not job quantity.

4. The State of Human Factory Analytics

Synopsis: Manufacturers striving for ‘loT sizes of one’ to satisfy shifting customer demands for customization, are making human advantages over machines for logical reasoning, adaptability, and dexterity more important than ever. This current state of human and machines in factories currently still favors the worker, with 72% of factory tasks performed by humans. However, tasks that are repetitive, require strenuous lifting or precision are unfavorable to humans; 68% of defects and 73% of variability are caused by humans.

Key Takeaway: Moving forward, an optimized division of labor means orchestrating workers and their tasks in factories and other industrial environments. Recognizing the advantages of both humans and machines and adjusting accordingly is essential to meet future demands of customers.

5. New Frontiers in Re-skilling and Upskilling

Synopsis: There is massive economic and business incentive for re-skilling and up-skilling the workforce, yet traditional training styles are costly and out-of-context. Developing skills for the ‘human’ element (empathy, listening, judgment, etc.) is increasingly important as automation takes over monotonous tasks. Upskilling using technologies including AR/VR is alleviating this training challenge.

Key Takeaway: AR is also being used as a knowledge transfer solution to ‘leverage the wisdom of age’ to harness organization’s experienced personnel’s deep tacit knowledge and lessen the forthcoming skills gap.

6. Improving Operational Efficiency with Workforce Productivity

Synopsis: Industry-wide issues including the worker shortage are forcing industrial organizations to turn to digital transformation to lessen its effects while driving critical business value. Improving operational efficiency is a key outcome of digital transformation with workforce productivity as a key metric within these initiatives.

Key Takeaway: Enterprises taking a “people-first approach” – see example in Volvo Group – by identifying better ways to equip workers and complete tasks are driving critical operational and performance metrics.


Each month, we’re curating a selection of thought leadership articles – from PTC and beyond – on critical issues facing today’s industrial leaders. Stay up to date on the current and future trends shaping the industry by subscribing to our monthly email newsletter:

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About the Author

David Immerman

David Immerman is as a Consulting Analyst for the TMT Consulting team based in Boston, MA. Prior to S&P Market Intelligence, David ran competitive intelligence for a supply chain risk management software startup and provided thought leadership and market research for an industrial software provider. Previously, David was an industry analyst in 451 Research’s Internet of Things channel primarily covering the smart transportation and automotive technology markets.