Industry 4.0: what are the challenges in terms of skills?

We have now fully entered the era of what is known as Industry 4.0: advanced technologies are redefining the production of material goods, and companies are fully embracing the “fourth industrial revolution”.

In this context of profound transformation, the adaptation of human skills has become a central issue. So what are the challenges that Industry 4.0 raises on the talent front? And what skills are essential to the industrial sector of today and tomorrow? You’ll find our analysis in this article.

Industry 4.0: what are we talking about?

The “fourth industrial revolution”

The first industrial revolution was characterized by the transition from production by hand to mechanized production. The second saw the introduction of new sources of energy such as electricity, gas and oil, while the third began with the rise of the internet and digital technology. Now we have arrived at the fourth industrial revolution: Industry 4.0.

This time, the transformation is marked by the emergence of cutting edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced robotics, and big data, all of which are driving a disruption of the global manufacturing landscape. These new technologies are completely redefining the way in which material goods are designed, produced and distributed.

Through Industry 4.0, factories are becoming “smart”, with connected machines and flexible and responsive production lines – increasing operational efficiency, reducing costs and pushing the limits of innovation.

Industry 4.0: concrete examples

Industry 4.0, for example, integrates the use of 3D printing for the rapid manufacturing of prototypes and personalized parts. More and more factory machines are equipped with sensors and connected devices to exchange information, optimizing production and enabling preventive maintenance.

The IoT is used to collect and exchange data on production lines. At LittleBig Connection, we support the automotive and manufacturing industries in identifying the best experts in the world, masters of niche technologies such as ThingWorx, a reference platform for the development of IoT applications, in order to to optimize factory production flows.

A transformation based on highly specialized skills

The new professions in the factory of the future

To navigate the Industry 4.0 era, companies must learn to mobilize new skills. Among the most sought-after kinds of expertise, we see:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Data analysis
  • 3D printing
  • Augmented reality
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Industrial cybersecurity
  • Robotics

this list is obviously not exhaustive!

Industry 4.0 makes the role of engineers more essential than ever, always pushing its evolution: “beyond its core business in industrial technology, the engineering profession hybridizes through contact with digital solutions, which the engineer must master along with a suite of management knowledge,” summarizes the bulletin of the Collective Structure of Higher Education in a prospective analysis on the development of skill needs for industry 4.0. The management of change is becoming one of the most essential skills for engineers in the Industry 4.0 paradigm.

The skills shortage – holding back the transformation of industry

Mobilizing these specialized skills represents a challenge for all companies involved. The sharp increase in demand and the still highly limited number of qualified profiles are creating a merciless war for talent.

In France, according to the INSEE national statistics body, the proportion of industrial companies reporting recruitment difficulties reached 67% in 2022, a level not seen since 1991. While 45,000 new engineers graduate each year, the real need is for another 20,000 more, according to the federation Syntec-Ingénierie.

The shortage of skills is also even greater in certain very specialized areas of expertise. The semiconductor sector, particularly strategic in the era of Industry 4.0, is for example facing an urgent need for skills at a global level.

The increasing use of external skills

To deal with recruitment difficulties, more and more industrial companies are calling on external experts with a view to integrating 4.0 technologies into their practices.

This outsourcing has a number of advantages, time saving, access to advanced expertise, and flexibility among them. By subcontracting, companies can maximize the success of their innovation projects.

From industry 4.0 to industry 5.0: what will be the skills of tomorrow?

Having barely entered the Industry 4.0 revolution, it seems that we are seeing the dawn of yet another disruptive era, already called Industry 5.0. What are the characteristics of this new cycle of transformation? Placing people and environmental protection at the heart of the production process.

The European Commission defines it as follows: “Industry 5.0 offers a vision of industry that looks beyond efficiency and productivity as the sole goals, to strengthen the roles and contributions of industry to society. It places the well-being of workers at the center of the production process and uses new technologies to ensure prosperity beyond jobs and growth while respecting the planet’s production limits.

In terms of skills, Industry 5.0 poses yet more new challenges. In addition to demonstrating an increased ability to work with advanced technologies, workers will soon need to master skills in sustainable transformation, and demonstrate critical thinking about the ethical implications of emerging technologies. Experts in carbon footprints, eco-design and IT, for example, are becoming essential profiles in the ranks of industrial companies.


If your company needs specialized skills to accelerate its transition to industry 4.0, or is perhaps even ready to move to Industry 5.0, why not call upon the services of LittleBig Connection: we help you find the best external experts in IT and engineering, but also in sustainable transformation, all over the world. Find out more here!