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The Industry 4.0 Talent Pipeline

By University of Detroit Mercy

A Generational Overview of the Professional Competencies, Motivational Factors & Behavioral Styles of the Workforce

This research seeks to identify emerging trends, pinpoint challenges and gain data-driven insights into the forces shaping the technical talent pipeline of Industry 4.0 in the United States, specifically Southeast Michigan, which has one of the largest concentrations of engineers and technicians in the country. The rapid advancement of digital technology has revolutionized engineering and industry. It is dramatically shaping the technical talent landscape.  Simultaneously, major cultural changes are being forced by generational transition and leadership succession.

To prosper in the Industry 4.0 ecosystem, individuals and organizations will be required to develop 21st century skill sets. The talent pipeline is failing to provide sufficient quantities of workers and calls for stepping up Industry 4.0 reskilling have become ever more urgent.  Five themes have emerged:

  1. The Workforce Must Embrace Frequent and Constant Change.
  2. Teams Must be Flexible, Adaptive and Collaborative.
  3. Companies Must Create Cultures of Inclusion and Transparency. 
  4. Workers Must Become Life-long Learners & Dynamic Thinkers. 
  5. Education Must Accelerate Workforce Development Reform.

An empirical investigation, focused on Southeast Michigan was conducted with the support of local industry, educational institutions and government agencies. Three key segments of upcoming generations, currently advancing in the talent pipeline, were investigated: 1) future technical leaders, 2) future engineers and 3) future tradespeople. Based on responses to a series of questions using the TTI TriMetrix® DNA assessment suite, a data-driven, validated assessment instrument, this research presents an overview of the development of 25 professional competencies that contribute to superior performance. Individual motives and behavioral styles are also explored. These findings provide some valuable insights and direction into what educators, industry and policy makers should address to upgrade the technical talent pipeline in the age of Industry 4.0 in order to protect and ensure the United States’ global leadership position.

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