Employment and Skills for the Future of Production

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution has transformed production industries with unprecedented speed and scale. Driven by macro and industry trends, global production value chains are shifting. This impacts workers and the types of skills needed in production industries ranging from textiles to chemicals and automotive. As a result, a new geography of production employment is emerging. An estimated 16 percent of jobs are susceptible in the five production industries analysed by the project in 2017: Automotive, Textile, Electronics, Chemicals and Industrial Equipment. The percentage is small when compared to what similar studies have predicted, but still represents nearly 50 million people across the globe. Significant skilling and re-skilling efforts are urgently needed to help workers transition towards geographies and production value chain segments where new jobs will emerge.
The scale of upskilling and reskilling needed to meet the demand in production sectors and unlock the full potential brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution will require sweeping change. This change must be fuelled by multi-stakeholder support and governance along with new approaches to deliver training programmes rapidly to millions of workers affected by the ongoing transformations. Bringing the production workforce into focus will also necessitate new coalitions of governments, employers, unions and other stakeholders. To be effective, solutions must be underpinned by a set of enablers, including education systems, a clear sense of shared social responsibility for private and public sectors alike, and a forward-looking policy framework.
In 2018, responding to a call for action from key stakeholders within the production ecosystem, the project will provide a platform to scale up existing collaborative efforts and incubate a new partnerships to accelerate the skilling and re-skilling of the production workforce.


The goal of the Employment and Skills for the Future of Production project, based on feedback from the Board of Stewards and other policymakers, businesses and labour union leaders during the Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2017 is to:

  • Examine the changing nature of work for the future of production; how will new technologies change the nature of the labour market – by sector, by region and at what pace?

  • Frame important conversations about how to address the transformational changes through multi-stakeholder dialogue.

  • Develop a collaborative platform to capture and share best practices for countries, companies, academia and labour unions.

  • Focus on the impact of new technologies on the geography of production and how best to absorb the transformational changes in the labour market.

  • Provide pragmatic recommendations for public and private sectors to capture opportunities and address challenges in the labour market as a result of the dissemination of new technologies in the manufacturing sector.