About the Author: Paul Brooks is a Business Development Manager at Rockwell Automation and is the lead for the Industrial IP Advantage, a coalition of like-minded companies driving community, thought leadership, and promotion of standard, unmodified Ethernet and Internet Protocol.

We’ve all seen the numbers. Baby boomers are retiring at a rate that’s outpacing new talent onboarding, leaving us with a global skills gap challenge. Additionally, the industry is requiring new, enhanced skills and the roles for information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT) professionals is shifting due to the convergence of information.

To address these challenges, I hosted a #CiscoChat this week with Paul Taylor, Strategic Alliance Manager at Cisco, Dan McGrath, Senior Business Development Manager at Panduit, and Jeff Gao, Corporate Director at Cisco. We discussed workforce challenges such as the IT/OT knowledge gap as well as how to attract and prepare workers for the changing industry landscape.

We kicked off the chat by asking: What are the biggest workforce challenges in manufacturing?





Based on the comments about keeping pace with the emergence of IoT, we then asked: Why are manufacturing jobs going unfilled? Many chimed in and explained that manufacturers struggle to appeal to younger generations. That may be true, but I pointed out that once people are exposed to it, many like me find manufacturing to be both fascinating and fulfilling.





Among recruiting challenges, the IT/OT knowledge gap was top-of-mind for many participants. And because this issue is widespread, we asked: What challenges arise as a result of the IT/OT knowledge gap?




The gap in collaboration between IT and OT was a reoccurring theme throughout the chat. In fact, a great question was brought into the conversation – “is IoT just a buzz word, or do people really understand it?” Through IT/OT convergence, manufacturers can start to take advantage of the $3.88 Trillion opportunity within the next 10 years by connecting operations to business outcomes. This can only be achieved by training and recruiting the workforce.

This leads us into the last questions:
How are manufacturers working to bridge the IT/OT skills gap?
What skills are needed to bridge the knowledge gap and how can training help?
ELearning opportunities will help employers and their employees bridge the manufacturing skills gap. As the industry continues to evolve, job requirements will shift as a result. Manufacturers have a lot to gain with Big Data, as skilled workers will enable companies to increase productivity and improve risk mitigation. You can learn more about eLearning opportunities from Industrial IP Advantage.

If you didn’t have a chance to attend the #CiscoChat, you can get a full recap of the questions and responses by reading our Storify. We will have more discussions in the future, so be sure to follow the @CiscoMFG team and keep up with the conversation using the hashtag #CiscoChat.



Paul Brooks

Business Development Manager

Rockwell Automation