The Top Seven Talent Trends in the Automation Industry for 2016

As Per Robert Cohn, Managing Partner
Direct Recruiters, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio
December 2015

What will be the top talent trends in the Automation Industry for 2016?

As a Managing Partner, at Direct Recruiters, Inc. (DRI) and devoting much of my time to the Automation, Sensors, Controls, and Robotics executive searches, I see a number of talent trends already taking shape and continuing over the next year and beyond including new technology, another generation entering the workforce, the need for new skill sets, the demand for hybrid talent, and industry growth.

1) Internet of Things (IOT): IOT is emerging as the next technology mega-trend across the business spectrum including the Automation industry. The IOT is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. While IOT has been in the industry since 2014, we’ll witness more things being connected to the Internet every day and in turn, experience improved efficiencies, productivity and job growth.
The IOT revolution means workers need to develop new skills to keep up especially if you’re an IT professional. The IOT means a job boom for Developers, Coders, and Hardware professionals having big data knowledge, excellent communication skills, and security knowledge.

2) Gen Z Entering Workforce May 2016. Generation Z a.k.a. Gen Z are those born between 1994 and 2004 (although there’s been no general agreement on exact years), will be entering the workforce in great numbers this spring. They are the most digitally connected generation yet. They have no concept about life before the Internet, mobile devices, digital games, or iTunes. Therefore, they are even more tech savvy than Millennials and tend to be more loyal and flexible in their approach to careers. They will choose career opportunities in the Automation Industry that provide quick advancement and work/life balance over salary and want mentors to help them achieve their goals.

3) Global Industry Growth Means More Jobs. The global automation market is expected to reach $185 billion by 2016 at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 8% from 2011 to 2016, according to the market research report “Industrial Controls & Factory Automation: Global Forecast & Analysis” published by MarketsandMarkets (a global market research and consulting company based in the U.S.). Due to high industry growth and groundbreaking innovations, leading companies in the automation industry are experiencing a large increase in the number of jobs available. Additionally, over the next few years, jobs we haven’t even thought of yet may be the careers of the future.

With regards to the Robotics sector, there’s been explosive growth. According to the Robotics Industry Association (RIA) ( the North American Robotics market alone set a new record in the first half of 2015: 14,232 robots, valued at $840 million were ordered from North American robotics companies. This record growth is expected to continue and can be attributed to trailblazing innovations and increasing consumer interest. However, workers have voiced fears that robotics will replace human jobs but experts say that automation improvements will not take jobs away. Actually, technology is creating as many jobs as it is replacing. But workers in 2016 and beyond, will have to expect a change in the types of roles that become available and adjust their skill sets accordingly.

4) The Boomerang Employee: An employee who leaves your organization and then returns to work for you later in time is called a boomerang employee. Reasons why they left may have been to further their career, try something new, or had a life changing event that forced them to resign. But no matter what the reason, a recent survey ( found that 76% of employers say they are more accepting of hiring them. This trend is happening because professionals are switching jobs more often and honing their skill sets to keep up with industry demands. In addition, top notch talent is hard to find so rehiring a top performer makes sense. Added benefits include that they are familiar with the company culture and may not require much training. They may also tend to bring new ideas and perspectives.

5) Hybrid Talent In-Demand. Hybrid jobs are the future of jobs. That’s why the demand for the hybrid employee is on the rise. Hybrid employees are considered a generalist and a specialist all in one. A generalist tends to be someone who knows quite a few things but only at an average level. A specialist knows only one or two but at an expert level. In the Automation Industry, a hybrid employee would be one that is technically inclined but can also assume the role of a sales professional. With a hybrid employee, employers are basically getting two people in one.

6) Longer Hiring Process Continues: Just ask anyone looking for a job right now and they’ll tell you that the hiring process takes a long time and an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) confirms it ( In April 2015, the average job was vacant for 27.3 days before being filled. This nearly doubles the 15.3 days it took prior to 2009. The long hiring process can be attributed to having fewer qualified candidates for job openings as well as the increased number of background screening and drug tests ordered. WSJ also cites that the many portals and databases used to source and find candidates have become more involved and therefore, taking more time. While better hires are coming out of the process, it’s moving slowly.

7) More Workforce Flexibility. With the rise of telecommuting, globalization and new technology, workers are demanding more flexibility. However, with this demand comes high expectations. Hiring managers expect their employees to be reachable outside the office and on their personal time. That means longer work weeks. But where to draw the line? For that reason, we expect that out of necessity, nearly every company will have a policy about workforce flexibility in the next few years.

For more information:contact Robert Cohn at 440-996-0595 or [email protected] or visit

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