New-Age Niche Skills That Engineers Will Need In Brave New World

A recent survey showed, over 80 per cent of engineering graduates are unemployable as they are not trained in the skills required by employers. Engineering students will need to learn those skills that are likely to be in demand


The arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has disrupted every industry, heralding the transformation of entire systems of production, management and governance. The technological breakthroughs in diverse fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, quantum computing etc. have enhanced the possibility of new products and services. The acceleration of innovation and the sheer velocity of digital disruption are having a major impact on the working landscape.

Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturing is very much as the name suggests: high-quality products that sell fast as they fly off the shelves! Typical products include packaged food and beverages, confectionery items and everyday use products like home cleaning and personal hygiene products. Engineers have a vital role in FMCG in developing and managing manufacturing processes to reduce costs and wastage and keep the product lines moving. Engineers also continually innovate new machines and processes to match consumer demands. They may also work on projects, which could focus on improving an existing line or installing new technology. Many FMCG companies buy production lines off the peg and then customize and optimize them for their own purposes.

Digitization is enabling continuous learning and remote working, especially seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is redefining the role of upskilling in future-proofing aspirants against market downturns. Clearly, this trend implies inevitable ramifications for thousands of engineering students, only a few of whom may possess the necessary skills when they graduate and enter the job market. A recent survey showed a startling statistic: over 80 per cent of engineering graduates are unemployable as they are not trained in the skills required by employers. Engineering students will need to learn those skills that are likely to be in demand and thus improve their chances for gainful employment. If you want to be future-ready, you will have to be open to facing perpetual change and upskilling.

To mark World Engineer’s Day today, here are five top skills engineering graduates will need in the workplace of the future, including FMCG manufacturers:

· Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. It is no longer the technology of the future – it is already here. It applies especially in the FMCG industry

where a lot of data needs to be processed, operations optimized, and decisions are taken. For students and young professionals, a word of caution: AI has a high learning curve, but for those who are motivated, the rewards of an AI career far outweigh the investment of time and energy. The potential of AI technology is huge, and growing every month.

· Technological Aptitude

An employee’s ability to master emerging technologies quickly will be more important than an employee’s expertise in using one specific niche technology. Only the combination of skilled labor and advanced tools will ensure sustainable success. Technological aptitude will become more important in the highest levels of the organization as well. Companies will continually update the systems and tools they already have in place, but they will also develop or acquire smart, new solutions that fully integrate new capabilities, such as big-data analytics.

· Data Analytics

FMCG companies and indeed most companies across sectors are focusing heavily on data analytics as a function, which means the profile of a data analyst is undergoing major reinvention. Companies require employees working in this role to analyse how data can be useful. Today’s data analysts need to be able to identify trends quickly, which, in turn, will ensure the company can leverage these to its best benefit. There is currently a demand-supply gap for this role.

· Robotics and Automation

Automation is an increasingly common attribute of modern manufacturing. The new wave of automation will be driven by the same things that first brought robotics and automation into the workplace: to free human workers from dirty, dull, or dangerous jobs; to improve quality by eliminating errors and reducing variability; and to cut manufacturing costs. FMCG companies require people with skills required to design, install, operate and maintain robotic systems.

With the adoption of cutting-edge technologies in non-IT firms gaining industry traction, companies across sectors are now hiring professionals with niche technological skills. To my mind, when it comes to the best jobs for the future, few industries stand out as much as the ones I’ve outlined above. It’s a great time for engineering graduates who wish to seek jobs and related careers in these fields. Moreover, it is not necessary to seek a career in the IT sector alone. One can have a lucrative IT careers in non-IT firms such as FMCG companies. Not only are these engineering graduates assured of faster professional growth, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to disrupt those industries that have traditionally shied away from implementing technology in their systems and processes.

(The given article is attributed to Simin Askari, Senior Vice President, Corporate Human Resources and Business Excellence, DS group and solely created for BW People)


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