Industry 4.0 on the shop floor: the jobs and technologies in manufacturing

Oliver Wozniok and Patrick Pabst

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

If you’re looking for a role working with automation, search our available jobs here.

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. Read more on what’s needed to become a software engineer here.
  • 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. You can find out more on the skills and experience required to work in data science here.
  • Robot programmer: These 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/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.

Interested in any of the above roles? Search for jobs here.


Oliver Wozniok
Head of Technical Center, Manufacturing Engineering, Hays Germany

With 30 years of professional experience in the manufacturing and service sector, Oliver works on contracts with companies in manufacturing. He is also responsible for the technical support of Manufacturing Engineering - this includes logistics planning, production planning, building and plant management as well as quality and supplier management.



Patrick Pabst
Team Leader: Technical Center, Manufacturing Engineering, Hays Germany

Patrick has worked at Hays since 2016 and is responsible for proposal developments and costing for contracts in manufacturing & engineering. He works with clients and Hays employees during ongoing projects with regard to the process, technical queries and all relevant questions.