Can smart tech help to solve the talent shortage?


Ed Pederson

Vice President, Product

A client recently reached out to discuss a manufacturing plant relocation. They wanted insight into where they could set up that would give them the best access to the talent. We crunched some data and went back with a surprising answer – they were already in the best possible location; it just didn’t feel like it in the current climate. The hard truth is, it’s never been tougher to engage candidates, and this challenge isn’t going anywhere.

Some industries are being hit harder than others by talent droughts, and the problem is acute in manufacturing. A report by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute predicts that 2.1 million manufacturing jobs will be unfilled by 2030, costing the US economy as much as $1 trillion. But how can organizations solve this epic talent gap? There is no single or easy answer. Employers need to offer greater flexibility, consider compensation, and rethink what people want and need from work. But one part of the equation that is often overlooked is technology. In our recent Global Workforce Agility Report, we found that 48% of leading organizations are using technology to improve the recruiting process. Automation and robotics have developed at an astonishing pace over the last few years, and they could hold some of the answers employers are searching for.

Here are some of the biggest ways that technology can help solve the talent shortage.

Automation and digital workers

Automation drives efficiency, and these efficiencies can help organizations deploy their workers more effectively while empowering them to focus on high-value tasks. We’re exploring automation on both sides of the hiring process. Our recently launched tool, KellyOCG Boost, is a fully-automated RPO solution focused on high-volume recruiting that enables candidates and employers to connect faster and more efficiently. We are also helping our clients introduce digital workers to their team – breaking down traditional roles to find tasks that can be easily automated. This laser-focused approach to automation ensures that human workers can be deployed where they are most effective, and that monotonous and repetitive tasks are dealt with quickly and efficiently by a growing digital workforce.

Physical robots

Robotics is a fast-moving field and a new generation of affordable cobots is offering game-changing benefits for organizations. Simply, cobots are collaborative robots and they are designed to work directly with humans. This is possible due to advances in safety tech and robotic automation, alongside a widespread reduction in the cost of traditional robots. Cobots thrive in repetitive, replicable environments like pick-and-pack facilities and production lines. This new robotic workforce can help organizations improve consistency and fill talent gaps.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality is a fast-growing field, and it goes well beyond gaming and social media. Augmented reality at work can help humans complete tasks faster while improving training protocols and reducing safety issues. One useful piece of smart kit is glasses (or goggles) with built-in AR. These can provide real-time immersive instructions to workers – something that can be invaluable in a production or assembly environment. Another area of innovation is light-guided systems. These can be less intense for workers to interact with on long shifts and are used to highlight items on a workbench to create interactive assembly lines. AR is a useful way to train and deploy workers quickly and safely.

Technology isn’t a silver bullet for the talent shortage – that doesn’t exist. But it is a great time to reconsider where technology can help drive efficiencies and fill gaps in hiring capacity inside your business. Want to talk about the latest advancements in workforce tech? Drop me a line to talk automation, cobots, and the science-fiction style advancements that are quickly becoming a reality.


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Keeping up with the new world of work means adopting creative business strategies, and connecting with the talent who will make a real difference in your field. Lucky for you, it’s what we specialize in.

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