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Future of Workforce in Manufacturing Industries

Changes to business models will have a profound impact on the employment landscape in Africa over the coming years. Many of the major drivers of transformation currently affecting industries are expected to have a significant impact on jobs, ranging from significant job creation to job displacement, and from heightened labor productivity to widening skills gaps. In such a rapidly evolving employment landscape, the ability to anticipate and prepare for future skills requirements, job content, and the aggregate effect on employment is increasingly critical.

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The demographics of employees are changing and so are employee expectations, values, attitudes, and styles of working. Conventional management models must be replaced with leadership approaches adapted to the future employee.
Manufacturing Industries in Africa must also rethink their traditional structure, how they empower employees, and what they need to do to remain competitive in a rapidly changing world and adapt to these changes.

 Drivers of change and impact on the workforce.
1. Changing work environments and flexible working arrangements – new technologies are enabling workplace innovations such as remote working, co-working spaces, and teleconferencing. Manufacturing industries are likely to have an ever-smaller pool of core full-time employees for fixed functions, backed up by colleagues in other regions and external consultants and contractors for specific projects.

2. Rise of the middle class in African markets – The world’s economic center of gravity is shifting towards the emerging world, the middle class highly prefer new and quality products this affects consumption and demand of products, therefore production is likely to increase and this impacts and the size of the workforce needed in the industries.

3. Climate change, natural resource constraints, and the transition to a greener economy – Climate change is a major driver of innovation in Africa, as organizations search for measures to mitigate or help adjust to its effects, yet as global economic growth continues to lead to demand for natural resources and raw materials, over-exploitation implies higher extraction costs and degradation of ecosystems, higher extraction costs will lead to the need for a reduction on production hence reduced workforce so that Industries can maximize cost and gain returns in production.



4. New consumer concerns about ethical and privacy issues– In many economies including Africa, consumers are increasingly concerned about a range of issues related to their purchasing decisions: carbon footprint; impact on the environment; food safety; labor standards; and a company’s record on ethical trade. Additionally, internet users have increasingly become aware of issues around data security and online privacy. Employees with skills in accrediting and advising on eco-labeled products will be required for hiring in the manufacturing Industries by the HR department.

5. Mobile internet and cloud technology – The mobile internet has applications across business and the public sector, enabling more efficient delivery of services and opportunities to increase workforce productivity in the manufacturing industries. With cloud technology, applications can be delivered with minimal or no local software or processing power, enabling the rapid spread of internet-based service models.

6. The Internet of Things – The use of remote sensors, communications, and processing power in industrial equipment and everyday objects will unleash an enormous amount of data and the opportunity to see patterns and design systems on a scale never before possible. In light of a continued and fast-growing need for skilled technicians and specialists to create and manage advanced and automated production systems. This is expected to lead to a transformation of manufacturing in Africa into a highly sophisticated sector where high-skilled engineers are in strong demand to make the Industrial Internet of Things a reality.



Manufacturing Industries need to:
Reinvent the HR Function: As business leaders begin to consider proactive adaptation to a new talent landscape, they need to manage skills disruption as an urgent concern. They must understand that talent is no longer a long-term issue that can be solved with tried and tested approaches that were successful in the past or by instantly replacing existing workers. Instead, as the rate of skills change accelerates across both old and new roles in all industries across the continent, proactive and innovative skill-building and talent management is an urgent issue.

What this requires is an HR function that is rapidly becoming more strategic and has a seat at the table, one that employs new kinds of analytical tools to spot talent trends and skills gaps, and provides insights that can help manufacturing industries align their business, innovation, and talent management strategies to maximize available opportunities to capitalize on transformational trends.

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Beyond hard skills and formal qualifications, employers are often equally concerned about the work-related practical skills or competencies that current employees or prospective new hires are able to use in order to perform various job tasks successfully. For businesses to capitalize on new opportunities, they will need to put talent development and future workforce strategy front and center to their growth.

Mombasa, Kenya.

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