What Industry 5.0 & Generation Z Mean for Manufacturing

According to WorkDesign Magazine, Generation Z is the largest living generation in the US and it’s predicted to massively shake up the workforce. As a member of Generation Z myself, I already notice the differences between myself and people only a few years older.

My generation craves financial stability and security. I can hardly remember a time when close relatives and friends weren’t dealing with the financial aftermath of the Great Recession. Many of us watched as our millennial siblings and cousins dealt with the fallout of student debt. According to Forbes, more than 75% of Generation Z believes you do not have to go college to receive a good education.

Members of my generation are drawn to solving solutions as quickly as possible and don’t appreciate processes that are not operating at their full potential. At the same time, we are digital natives, and as we enter the workforce, we’re looking for tech-enabled careers.

These traits could prove massively beneficial for the manufacturers who are struggling with a severe workforce shortage that’s only going to get worse. Careers in the manufacturing industry offer financial security, require a different kind of training than a traditional four-year degree, involve complex problem solving, and in the case of advanced manufacturing, are powered by technology.

Manufacturers and members of my generation share common interests. A fact which causes many to speculate that my generation will ring in the fifth industrial revolution, Industry 5.0, in the next ten years. Industry 5.0 will be focused on the collaboration between humans and machines.

However, many small and mid-size manufacturers haven’t adopted new technology yet, and as a result aren’t able to draw my peers and other digital natives to their industry or their jobs. For some, they’re paralyzed by a fear of “lights out” factories, in other words facilities that require no manual labor, or worse yet, a shuttered facility. For others, they’re so focused on getting and keeping skilled people, they don’t have time to think about how new technology could benefit their business.

But their fears are unfounded. Industry 5.0 innovations, like cobots, will make it much easier for a wide variety of manufacturers to adopt technology, to increase the productivity of their workforce without eliminating jobs and to compete in the years to come. These innovations will also attract new talent to the manufacturing industry. With 61 million members of Generation Z entering the workforce in the next decade, it is now more important than ever to adopt technology today.  

Madeline LeFevour, Industrial Engineering Intern

Don Meier