two manufacturing employees in a factory reviewing information on a laptop

Essential Skills to Look for in Manufacturing Job Employees

Between 2018 and 2028, the skills gap in the manufacturing industry will leave an estimated 2.4 million jobs open, according to a recent study from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute. Although job openings in the manufacturing sector have been growing by double digits since mid-2017, we’re now looking at a significant impact on careers in manufacturing by technological advances as well as generational changes.

Companies are adopting automation into factories, increasing productivity and limiting risk. Further, approximately 2.6 million baby boomer workers are projected to leave the manufacturing industry over the next decade, taking their institutional knowledge with them into retirement. Combining these factors with natural industry growth, the current and pending manufacturing skills gap could put $454 billion of manufacturing gross domestic product at risk in 2028 alone.

So, as we move into the future of a career in manufacturing, what job skills are needed to fill this looming skills gap? Let’s take a look at some manufacturing skills required in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, impacting machinist jobs, factory jobs, and other skilled trade jobs. As you're reviewing candidate resumes and applications and conducting interviews, these are the competencies you should inquire about.


Digital & Computer Skills

As technology continues to impact most jobs, especially a career in manufacturing, employees now should have reliable digital and computing skills, as many hands-on, skilled trade jobs are evolving into computer-savvy positions. For example, to be competent in digital and computer skills, employees should first and foremost understand cloud computing abilities. For instance, earning a Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certificate can open up many job opportunities as more employers are turning to cloud services and security.

Additionally, to excel in current and future manufacturing jobs, employees may also seek skills in DevOps, programming languages, UX design, or mobile application development. Understanding how digital and computer skills impact the manufacturing industry allows future employees to contribute in our technological world.


manufacturing plant equipped with automated machinery


Artificial Intelligence & Related Automation Skills

Along with digital and computing skills, employees also need to be familiar with artificial intelligence, automation, and natural language processing. With more organizations implementing artificial intelligence to automate processes while contributing to profitability, manufacturing employers will need to hire job seekers who can handle technological transitions and autonomous systems.

With redundant, repetitive skills – such as those found in many skilled trade jobs – now being handled by artificial intelligence and robotics, many traditional manufacturing jobs, such as machinist jobs and factory jobs, are being replaced or otherwise impacted by computers. However, with the continued implementation of artificial intelligence, new positions will be created for programming, managing, and overseeing robots, requiring employees to have high-level technical skills. Although machinist jobs and other factory jobs may still exist in the future, you can (almost) guarantee that these job positions will become more technologically savvy.


Create Your Account Today

Already Registered?
Sign in »


Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking is one of the most essential job skills candidates should possess. The ability to process and analyze data and information affects not only manufacturing, but also every existing industry. To perform well at critical thinking and analytical reasoning, employees must be able to identify the problem or issue and independently research the topic, inferring and developing possible solutions.

Additionally, critical thinkers can identify biases, whether intentional or inherent, while being creative in their problem solving approach. Critical thinkers are naturally curious, being able to ask open-ended questions while absorbing new information.


manufacturing employee using a laptop while examining an equipment system


Adaptability & Flexibility Skills

Today’s manufacturing industry is dynamic, with changes happening before our eyes. To be successful in this fast-paced industry, employees need to embrace soft skills, such as adaptability and flexibility. When you’re adaptable and flexible, you exhibit a high willingness and ability to respond to your job duties and environment, allowing you to be more productive and open to feedback.

People who are highly adaptive and flexible are receptive to change and creativity while modifying their behavior as required. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution just kicking off, we have yet to see what the future holds. With adaptability and flexibility skills, employees can respond positively to the future of manufacturing work, making them invaluable employees.


There’s no doubt that the manufacturing industry is changing quickly. If you’re hiring for manufacturing jobs, go to iHireManufacturing to post your openings or search our resume database for professionals that have the skills you need.

By iHire | October 23, 2019