Industry 4.0 User’s Guide: Educator Edition

This guide provides a look at what educators need to know about Industry 4.0 and how they can best prepare Worker 4.0 for the realities of the current and future factory.


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The Rise of the Worker 4.0

Robotics. Artificial intelligence. Data. Virtual ecosystems. Rapid prototyping. These are the hallmarks of Industry 4.0, also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution. Industry 4.0 follows the innovations of water and steam power in Industry 1.0, electrical power in Industry 2.0, and information technology and electronics in Industry 3.0. It is an evolution in industry that represents a paradigm shift from the assembly lines popularized by the U.S. automotive industry. Whereas the values typified by those initial factories prioritized profitability over people and safety standards, modern manufacturing has evolved to place an equally high value on clean technology, virtual ecosystems, collaborative robots, and on-demand, yet affordable, customization. But  most notably, Industry 4.0 is giving rise to the demand for a new kind of employee: Worker 4.0.

People who are considered Worker 4.0 are currently in manufacturing-related degree programs in colleges and universities across the country. Or perhaps Worker 4.0 will be arriving on campus soon as a current manufacturing employee needing to update his or her skills. As the U.S. rapidly converts to a new type of industrial economy of automation and workflow optimization, low-skill jobs are disappearing.1 Careers in Industry 4.0 are highly technical roles that require some post-secondary education and a mix of hard and soft skills. Skills like computer programming, problem solving, creativity, and mathematics are all essential for Worker 4.0 to possess

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