Cartoon image of several workers in hard hats on a large manufacturing floor surrounded by intelligent machines.
Image: © Tartila/

The tech jobs you need to know about in manufacturing

3 Aug 2022

Hays’ Oliver Wozniok and Patrick Pabst discuss how digitisation and automation have created tech jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Even before the fourth industrial revolution (or industry 4.0) began, the role of humans and their relevance in manufacturing has been a hot topic of conversation. The faceless robots are able to perform tasks at a speed and consistency with which we cannot compete.

However, we also know that digitalisation and automation can only do so much. While it’s true that we’re seeing more quantifiable processes being managed by robotic process automation (RPA), this comes with an increase in roles that require empathetic and creative skills. In other words, those that need the human touch.

Despite the widespread – and growing – use of automation, companies in the field of manufacturing are adding to their workforce. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Automobile manufacturers
  • Mechanical engineering companies
  • Logistics companies
  • Industrial companies

What are some of the jobs available in manufacturing?

Automation technician

An obvious place to start. Automation doesn’t start by itself – specialists are required to set up and maintain it. This can relate to anything from creating software to managing programmable logic controllers.

Software engineer

For automated processes to be set up and to run smoothly, organisations will need people with programming skills.

Data scientist

Rather than superseding data scientists, automation and artificial intelligence is actually enabling them to do more. In this instance, automation has become a tool, allowing the humans to focus on exceptions and intellectual solutions.

Robot programmer

These professionals work with industrial robots, both in terms of managing and commissioning them, as well as developing their operating systems.

Production technologist

On a larger scale, organisations require somebody to plan the industrial production processes, set up production plants and carry out prototyping.

What are the skills you need?

These roles continue to have a place alongside automation in the field of manufacturing, but with a corresponding IT and programming focus.

What does this mean? Technical education is useful. Examples of relevant degrees include those in electrical engineering, communications engineering or computer science. Similarly, employers are seeking those with further training in robotics or computer science. If you don’t have these, then relevant experience for any of the above fields can be equally beneficial.

You’ll need soft skills too. Social skills are important. After all, the robots haven’t mastered this – yet! If you’re in a leadership position, this will involve making decisions based on a number of factors, and the ability to organise and project-manage.

For those in more junior positions, you’ll need to communicate well and be able to cooperate with people both inside and outside of your immediate environment. Regardless of seniority, an ideal candidate would be a strong problem solver with the ability to pivot quickly.

Ultimately, however, the most important skill is not a technical or digital one. It is having the courage to continue learning and to see industry 4.0 not as a threat, but as an opportunity.

By Oliver Wozniok and Patrick Pabst

Oliver Wozniok is the head of the manufacturing engineering technical centre at Hays Germany. Patrick Pabst is a team leader at the manufacturing engineering technical centre at Hays Germany. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays blog.

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