July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
We are now living on the threshold of the new production revolution. Industry 4.0 technologies such as autonomous robots, the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT), cobots, hands-free wearables, data analytics are bringing widespread automation and irreversible shifts in the structure of jobs (Kergroach, 2017). Warehouses are the heart of a company’s operations – be it manufacturing, wholesale, or retail. Adoptions of these emerging technologies are likely to contribute to greater productivity and create enormous economic benefits in warehouses. However, these emerging technological developments raise major challenges in labor markets and for policymakers responsible for promoting the necessary skills and employment. Emerging evidence in the past five years has indicated that major labor gaps are bound to occur due to Industry 4.0 technologies (NASEM, 2017). Therefore, it is imperative to better understand and track these trends in the labor market and the future of work (FOW) so that strategies to inform, prepare for, and respond to changes in the industrial distribution workplace can be developed. This study is exploratory in nature. It will explore the experience of workers in the warehousing and industrial distribution sectors, and ultimately this paper will provide preliminary findings of how workers view their work and training evolving in the new few years due to Industry 4.0 technologies. The purposes of this study are to (1) explore workers’ perceptions of the influence of FOW technologies within current workplace practices, (2) to identify barriers to future-ready capabilities, and (3) better understand how low-skilled workers will be impacted by FOW changes. This work will adopt a grounded theory research study and employ snowball sampling method to identify research participants in both small and large enterprises in the industrial distribution sector. A total of about 20-30 workers will be recruited from 10-12 companies. Interviews and focus groups will be conducted to collect the data. For the data analysis, Strauss and Corbin’s (1990) guidelines will be followed and open coding, axial coding, and selective coding will be used to extract the main themes that constitute works’ perceptions of the influence of FOW technologies, as well as barriers and skills gaps faced by low-skilled workers impacted by FOW changes. On the basis of research results, strategies to inform, prepare for, and respond to changes in the industrial distribution workplace will be presented. Preliminary findings of this study will serve as practical suggestions for industry leaders, workplace training, workforce development, and upskilling for workers. The findings will also provide guidelines for adult learning practice, program delivery, professional development for adult educators, and evidence-based practices for the development of digital literacy within underserved populations.
Qiu, S., & Natarajarathinam, M., & Johnson, M. D., & Roumell, E. A. (2021, July), The Future of Work: Identifying Future-ready Capabilities for the Industrial Distribution Workforce Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37864
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