Skills and Industry 4.0 - How to Handle The Gap

There is a strong “mismatch” of skills between supply and demand, and this does not help either the labor market or the return on investment in the industrial revolution 4.0.

The new approaches dictated by digital transformation initiatives, like Industry 4.0 and so on, are radically changing the ways of working, the human-machine-technology relationship, and the attitudes and skills required. When any geographical or national barrier is broken, competitiveness is encouraged for those capable of delivering value properly.

As any industrial transformation that took place in the past, the current one, the fourth, (after the steam engine, electricity, and information technology), seems perhaps to be the most underestimated or to have the least impact on life and work behaviors. Instead, it is known that the changes taking place over the past three to four years have actually had more impact than those that occurred in the last hundred years. It is estimated that about 65% of children who attend primary school today will have a job that does not exist today.

The substitution of labor with capital, of capital with information and information with widespread and interconnected knowledge between and within devices redistributes and redefines the concept of knowledge itself, and consequently the skills necessary to govern this new scenario.

What makes the difference is the availability of real-time information in any business environment. Think about the operators of industrial machinery: they increase productivity when they have “data in the palm of their hand” about the machine status, the order scheduling, the unpredictable events that occur daily upstream and downstream along the supply chain.

Digital transformation is different from the previous industrial transformations, for many reasons, including:

  1. The speed of events;

  2. The number of people and industries involved, except for some rare exceptions in monopolistic environments;

  3. The absence of barriers and geographical boundaries: anyone who knows how to grasp the advantages can be more competitive;

  4. The unexplored threats and opportunities: just think about artificial intelligence, autonomous robotics, etc.

Therefore, these scenarios require new efforts in innovation and re-skilling activities that have never been seen before. This is evident with the recent initiatives like those undertaken by the World Economic Forum” (The future of jobs, 2016), the European Community (new skills agenda for Europe), and other international institutions.


First, it is necessary to focus on some key attitudes to “ride” the new scenario, even before acquiring the necessary skills.

Here are some examples.

Ability to Select Data

As known, we are submerged by data, but how much of it is accurate and valid in order to help us achieve specific objectives? The ability to select, cleanse and manage data is paramount. Otherwise, we generate a huge waste of time and resources.

Ability to Adapt

Continuous changes are always part of any business scenario. Facing them with the necessary mastery and adaptability becomes essential.

Ability to Proactively Anticipate Events, Reducing Risk

The ability to perceive the evolution of events, based on trend analysis, correlations of various variables, predictive methods and so on, really help us to keep abreast and not feel overwhelmed by events. Risk management capabilities reinforce, above all, the negative impacts in manufacturing environments.

From the above considerations, we understand what skills are required, and why.

Without going into details, we can say there is a strong demand for master information adaptively.

New and high demanding job profiles are required in the operations and supply chain world.