It is important to note that the source of the article What is Industry 4.0—the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is Epicor, a software vendor that sells ERP software for manufacturing companies; so the author is not an academic source, but they are a knowledgeable industry source.
Industry 4.0 is the digital transformation of manufacturing to an interconnecting and interlinking Internet of Things (IoT), real-time data, and cyber-physical systems (What is Industry 4.0—the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?, n.d.). Industry 4.0 is automation enhanced with “smart and autonomous systems fueled by data and machine learning” (Marr, 2018).
There may be a reduction in staff as a result of the automation and integration in Industry 4.0, but there is a higher likelihood that personnel will be re-allocated to different jobs. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests that fewer people will be employed for process-based tasks in factories and offices, but more jobs will be created to build and optimize cyber-physical systems. Building and optimizing cyber-physical systems will require more skilled labor. As with previous industrial revolutions, SHRM predicts that more personnel will be required to operate Industry 4.0 environments (Baldassari & Roux, 2017).
Other sources referencing a McKinsey report suggest that Industry 4.0 and the associated adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will cause 1/5th of the workforce to be impacted and a decrease in staff for 50%of companies. The report forecasts the replacement of 800 million workers by robots by the year 2030 (How Will the Fourth Industrial Revolution Impact the Future of Work?, n.d.).
There are differing beliefs on the topic, but clearly the types of work in smart manufacturing environments will change, so people that work in these environments will have different roles. This may require adaptation and retraining of current factory personnel so that they focus on managing the automation systems in Industry 4.0.
As jobs shift away from the manufacturing line, they will shift toward IT-related jobs, which will increase significantly with the adaptation of robotics and automation. The robotic revolution will create 100 million new jobs, growing the economy. Despite the reduction in factor line workforce, every person will be needed to manage this smart manufacturing environment (Roman, 2021).
Baldassari, P. and Roux, J.D. (2017). Industry 4.0: Preparing for the Future of Work. SHRM. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/executive/resources/people-strategy-journal/Summer2017/Pages/industry-future.aspx
How Will the Fourth Industrial Revolution Impact the Future of Work? (n.d.). Change Recruitment Group. Retrieved from https://www.changerecruitmentgroup.com/knowledge-centre/how-will-the-fourth-industrial-revolution-impact-the-future-of-work
Marr, B. (2018, September 2). What is Industry 4.0? Here’s a Super Easy Explanation for Anyone. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/09/02/what-is-industry-4-0-heres-a-super-easy-explanation-for-anyone/?sh=48c664e99788
Roman, D. (2021, June 30). The future of work: a look at what the job market of tomorrow might look like. WeAreBrain. Retrieved from https://wearebrain.com/blog/innovation-and-transformation-strategy/the-future-of-work-job-market-of-tomorrow/
What is Industry 4.0—the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)? (n.d.). EPICOR. Retrieved from https://www.epicor.com/en-us/blog/what-is-industry-4-02/