By Jan Denys, Labour market expert at Randstad Group, speaker at the European Label Forum 2017

The importance of Industry 4.0. for a sustainable society and labour market is widely acknowledged.  An underlying question is what this means for recruitment and human resources policies in the companies involved.

The answer on that question will depend on the effects of digitalization/robotisation on the future of work. Here we can distinguish between two basic scenario’s:

  • In scenario A, digitalization/robotisation wil lead to massive job destruction with no or insufficient job creation.
  • In scenario B, digitalization will lead to changes within excisting jobs.

The strategies to deal with these scenarios will differ. Massive job destruction will lead to dismissals.  In scenario B the stress will be on (re)training the existing workforce.

The label industry: a mix of both scenarios

I think that for the label industry neither scenario A nor B will be applicable.  It will be a mix of both. The long term trend for industry is gradual job destruction. Low or unskilled jobs disappear.  At the same time the other jobs need (at least partly) different (mostly higher) skills. In some cases employees can be retrained but in other cases this is not possible or not effective/efficient.

In the latter case they will be replaced by new (mostly younger) recruits. This trend comes together with another one : the ageing of the workforce.  An important consequence of ageing is that even industries with a shrinking workforce need new recruits.  I assume this long term trend for the industry in general will more or less also apply for Industry 4.0.

Talent key to success

In any case talent will be crucial.  Attracting, retaining and engaging talent – all three of them – is and will be the key of future business success.  And that is where employer branding is coming in.  It should be no surprise that employer branding comes as a very important strategic answer of employers to the future challenges.  In Belgium, in a very recent research, employer branding came out as the second most important strategy of employers to deal with future scarcity on the labour market. The number one was more and better retention.

Employer branding: what does it mean for the label industry?

In my presentation I will analyze what employer branding really means for employers.  Since we study employer brands already for 17 years, we think we know something about it. I will describe what is really important and what is issue of the day.  And we will debunk some persistent myths…