Industryweek 13320 Internet Things

Are Workers Ready for the IoT Revolution?

June 13, 2016
New buzzword but same old problem: Where will we find the workforce 
of the future?

While "revolution" might be a strong word for the new world of the Internet of Things (IoT), it certainly seems that everyone is talking about the dawning of a new age. Some would argue that it’s really the newer version of machine to machine (M2M) communication; nevertheless it has captured the imagination of the world of data and has become an industry within itself.

With the expected explosive growth of this industry comes the need for workers who are able to make sense of the data generated by the connectivity of machines (and devices that can be equipped with sensors).

Do we have enough developers, coders and hardware professionals with the requisite Big Data knowledge? Not really, according to a study by McKinsey & Company. By 2018, the U.S. alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use Big Data analytics to make effective decisions.

Who will solve this problem? My money is on the business world. They will train people for these jobs of the future. The manufacturing community has done this to get the highly skilled workers they need and they, along with other companies, will do this for IoT skills.

For example, General Electric Co. says that moving its headquarters from Connecticut to Boston was due to the availability of talent in Boston, which is home to 55 colleges and universities. GE is also using its internal resources to train workers at its software center in San Ramon, Calif.

Rockwell Automation is also getting into the IoT training game and has rolled out several courses and a certification program with Cisco.

And the universities are doing their part as well. MIT, for instance, is offering an online course that aims to help professionals who want to make sure they have the skills of the future. The University of California offers a Master’s degree in data science. Carnegie Mellon and Columbia also offer programs.

Not everyone, however, sees the IoT workforce dependent on academia for its development. Robert Cohen of the Economic Strategy Institute professes that there will be new categories of jobs in this "gig economy" that don’t require formal degrees.

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