What network topology should you recommend for a new plant floor network? What protocol should be used to prevent communication loops between multiple switches? What devices are being added to the network and are they cybersecure? What’s the best way to design a wireless LAN?

What should be done today to prepare  for or implement the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?

If you would like more expertise for addressing questions like this, you are not alone. There will be a significant shortage of manufacturing skills over the next decade and one solution is training and skills enhancement for automation professionals like you.

Let’s take a look at the engineering talent gap and ways you can keep your skills up-to-date.


Due to retirements, business growth and the Smart Factory of the Future, there is a large gap between the industrial engineering skills available today and what’s needed over the next 10 years.  (Image: Miguel Ramirez / Los Angeles Times)

The Automation Engineering Talent Gap

The talent gap for manufacturing skills is high and getting higher. Consider this:

  • Over the next 10 years in the U.S. alone, 3.4 million manufacturing jobs need to be filled
  • 2.7 million openings are due to baby boomer retirements and 700,000 are due to business growth
  • Nearly 60 percent of the 3.4 million positions are forecast to go unfulfilled

94 percent of U.S. manufacturing executives agree that training and development programs for their current workforce are the most effective way to address the skills gap.

Now let’s consider the impact of the Smart Factory / Industry 4.0 / and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). These visions of the future of manufacturing all describe production processes that will be much more connected, intelligent, flexible and dynamic than today. The result will be things like mass customization, manufacturing as a service, and other capabilities that we can’t even think of today.

At a European Manufacturing 4.0 event, Belden’s Executive Vice President Christoph Gusenleitner commented:

”A typical industrial engineer has an electro-mechanical background but today with Manufacturing 4.0 we need much more than that to understand and develop the real potential of networking, processing, and data analytics in plants and products. That means changing our hiring policies and our organizational structure, and reorganizing around value streams, not product lines.”

If the skills required of the industrial engineer of the future look a little intimidating, take a deep breath. There are straightforward ways to update your industrial Ethernet skills and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow.


Almost half of manufacturing executives believe that in 2020 there will be an extreme OR a debilitating shortage of engineering skills. Source: 2015 Deloitte Report

Industrial Network Professional Training Programs

Take a moment to reflect on your skills and think about how you might want to enhance them. The 2015 Deloitte report on the U.S. manufacturing skills gap is a worthwhile read – you might even want to share it with your boss. Also become familiar with the “Smart Factory of the Future” vision.

To address the need for up-to-date expertise Belden has developed a range of training and certification programs. Unique aspects of our training are:

  • The instructors are application engineers and product managers who have many years of experience working with industrial facilities around the world. You will learn their tips and tricks and be able to go back to your job better equipped to design, implement, maintain and manage industrial networks.
  • All of the material takes into account the mission-critical nature of industrial systems.
  • Many of the sessions are hands-on, which is the most effective way to learn. You will leave with actionable “I can use this immediately when I get back on the job” know-how.
  • The industrial networking skills we teach prepare you for the IIoT era.

Course schedules for sessions across the U.S. and around the world are available now. Visit the links available at the end of this article for more information.

Prevent Downtime and Avoid the Skills Gap

Keeping your industrial Ethernet skills up-to-date, whether by taking a Belden course or those of others, makes you more valuable in the marketplace. It also protects your organization from downtime, reduces maintenance costs and contributes to IIoT-ready competiveness.

Will you take steps to improve your skills in 2016? Why or why not? I look forward to hearing from you.

Download the white paper "The Case for Specifying Industrial Ethernet Cable for Harsh Environments"

Related Links

Industrial Engineering Skills Gap

Industrial Internet of Things, Smart Factory

Belden Training Programs in the U.S.

Belden Training Programs – International