Transforming the Workforce in the Era of AI Expansion - A MAPI Foundation Research

Posted by Simone Erskine on May 21, 2019 3:10:00 PM

The following is a description of MAPI Foundation's research on how AI is transforming the workforce, written by MAPI Foundation.

Manufacturing leaders are seeking strategies and solutions to address a burning question:
How will AI transform the workforce – the people, roles, skillsets – in the next 5 years?


Predictive maintenance, human-robot collaboration, and generative design are a few of the applications of artificial intelligence remaking manufacturing. Expectations continue to rise for AI to unlock elusive productivity gains. Industry leaders are adapting to the technological change — AI and related Industry 4.0 and IIoT technologies — that will continue to reshape their workforce, either through the automation and replacement of some workers or upskilling and new roles of others.

The AI capabilities of industrials are nevertheless in their infancy. Few manufacturers have brought transformative AI-led automation to scale, and direct effects on employee headcount have been minimal. Regardless of the extent of workforce change, AI will likely change the nature of work, and the skills needed, more dramatically. The core challenge for leaders thus echoes earlier periods in the history of technological change: how will AI transform my manufacturing workforce — the people, roles, skillsets — in the next 5 years? Change will not occur in a vacuum, but amidst an aging workforce and an already-acute STEM skills gap, particularly from manufacturers outside of “high-tech” sectors. New talent and workforce transformation will be imperative.

mapi blogTHE MISSION

The MAPI Foundation, in conjunction with the Information Technology Innovation Foundation (ITIF), will research and deliver a new perspective on managing workforce transformation in the age of AI. The research will be informed by a review of existing studies and reports, interviews with key manufacturers, AI providers, and educators, and a survey of MAPI members. We plan to issue a final report of approximately 30 pages and accompanying material by the end of June 2019. By helping to inform strategies that combine the best of human capability and AI, this work will help leaders focus efforts on workforce transformation and stay ahead of the changing nature of work.


The research will be led by Dr. Robert Atkinson. As founder and president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), recognized as the world’s top think tank for science and technology policy, Dr. Atkinson leads a prolific team of policy analysts and fellows that is successfully shaping the debate and setting the agenda on a host of critical issues at the intersection of technological innovation and public policy. He is an internationally recognized scholar and a widely published author whom The New Republic has named one of the “three most important thinkers about innovation,” and Government Technology Magazine has called one of the 25 top “doers, dreamers and drivers of information technology.”


With sufficient funding the MAPI Foundation will:

  1. Introduce a framework to assess the current and projected state of manufacturing and AI, dispelling common myths and presenting key AI-smart manufacturing stages a typical manufacturer will go through. This work will bring greater clarity to AI application areas relevant to manufacturing over the next 5 years.
  2. Provide a typology to categorize both jobs (roles and skillsets) and AI applications in the future state. This will include examining AI skill requirements and whole new job titles likely to be created at all skill and education levels within manufacturing.
  3. Identify implications of the future state for change management initiatives, including best practices from early AI adopters. This will include recommendations on what manufacturers can do, individually and collectively in their region, to develop and attain the skills they need.

21415320_120x120Be a part of the solution by participating in a brief survey that will help MAPI better understand how artificial intelligence is affecting manufacturers and their workforce today and in the future. The survey consists of questions related to manufacturing digitization, use of AI-enabled applications challenges to implementing AI-based solutions in manufacturing environments, and questions about workforce implications.

Access the The Future of AI & the Manufacturing Workforce survey.

Contact the MAPI Foundation at

Simone Erskine

Written by Simone Erskine

Topics: technology, workforce

    Subscribe to Email Updates:

    Stay Connected:

    Posts by Category