We live in a world of paradoxes. On the one hand, political and manufacturing leaders tell us that there is an increasing skills gap. In the US alone, it is estimated by Deloitte that 2 million jobs between 2015 and 2025 within the manufacturing industry will go unfulfilled, because manufacturing companies will not find the appropriately skilled talent to fill new positions.

On the other hand, the fear of robotics and automation taking over millions of jobs is spreading. A report by McKinsey Global Institute estimates that as high as 73 million jobs could disappear because of automation, by 2030 in the US alone (though not specifically in the manufacturing industry).

Robots will take over the mid-level jobs that can be automated which will lead to a huge displacement of the manufacturing workforce, but a lack of talent will result in a scarcity of highly-skilled positions being filled. Retraining should be on the top of most manufacturers’ organizations. As the futurist Gerd Leonhard recently told me in an interview, “to change our jobs, we need to move up the food chain to valuable things humans do, like understanding, negotiations, planning, innovation.” skills will become increasingly important.

So, too, will diversity. And yet, while looking at gender diversity in the global workforce and manufacturing specifically, there are still some ridiculous statistics:

104 countries still have laws preventing women from working specific jobs, according to the World Bank

Women account for only 27% of the US manufacturing workforce, according to a Deloitte survey

It’s high time the manufacturing industry prepares for the world of tomorrow, today. Leaders and experts continuously talk about the need to disrupt before being disrupted, citing Kodak, Blockbuster, or more recently, Toys’R’Us as examples of companies who stood still in the face of disruption. But most manufacturing leaders’ periscope is perhaps too narrowly focused on the threat of technology, and not looking at the opportunities a more diverse workforce (and management team) could bring.

What are manufacturing organizations doing to attract, retain, and advance women?

Let us know if you have a story to share, or join us at the Aftermarket Business Platform for the Women in Service Panel Discussion with Regina Roos (ABB), Gema Palomo (Suez Water & Tech), and Özen Ergezer (MAN Truck & Bus).

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