Manufacturing is amidst another revolution, thanks to the capabilities data and machine learning have expanded from the previous revolution’s adoption of computers and automation. Manufacturing 4.0 represents the next wave of manufacturing, using automation, IoT, AI and other technology to optimize factory efficiency.

Throughout U.S. history, manufacturers have been instrumental in emergence from the destruction and disarray of wars and the despair and distress of economic recessions. Now, with COVID-19, manufacturers have mobilized to meet the greatest health and economic threat of our time – further solidifying its status as an essential industry.

However, even before the pandemic, the industry has been facing a skills gap, with as many as 2.1 million positions expected to go unfilled in manufacturing over the next decade.1 While 63% of manufacturing jobs lost during the pandemic have been recouped, manufacturers are still reporting that finding the right talent is 36% harder than it was in 2018, despite an unemployment rate that has nearly doubled the supply of available workers.1

This labor gap has accelerated the urgency for manufacturing 4.0 throughout the industry and the need for 4.0 transformation has captured the attention of many manufacturing leadership teams at a completely new level following the impact of COVID-19, including: 2

  • Increased focus on real-time data and analytics
  • Accelerated digital transformation initiatives
  • Increased drive towards collaborative enterprises, and remote or virtual working/operations/monitoring
  • Established safer working practices and environments
  • Focused leadership attention on digital opportunities and transformation
  • Improved disaster preparedness and more resilient / agile supply chains

Manufacturing 4.0 is changing the landscape for the industry; and not only is it changing the processes within the factory, it’s also changing the skills needed to perform these jobs. In addition to hiring for these skills, many manufacturers are also investing in upskilling and reskilling their current employees on these new technologies. Today’s manufacturing is an exciting industry, fueled by technology and individuals who are conceiving life-changing ideas, making a difference and improving the lives of others.

The manufacturing skills gap, exasperated by the pandemic, has accelerated the urgency for manufacturing 4.0 – leading many manufacturing leadership teams to place a new, heightened level of focus on 4.0 transformations within their factories.


1Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute
2Manufacturing Leadership Council