Cluster CEO Kim Taylor Talks Hiring and Upskilling Engineers for Industry 4.0 on the Skill Podcast

Lawren Henderson
Staff Writer at Cluster

Cluster is the first marketplace for hardware companies to hire full-time engineers. Hire talent with expertise honed at top companies in climate tech, aerospace, automotive, robotics and more.

Industry 4.0 is changing the skills that companies need from their engineering workforce. Recently, Cluster Founder and CEO Kim Taylor joined host Micah Merrick of the Skill Podcast for a conversation about the impact of Industry 4.0 on the manufacturing sector and how Cluster is helping employers and engineers adapt to these major changes.

The discussion kicks off with a look back at Kim’s early life growing up in a manufacturing family and community in Wisconsin. She then describes her exploration of a career in journalism and experience working in online higher education that prompted the founding of her edtech startup Ranku. After selling the venture-backed company to a leading publisher, she became interested in the “skills gap” impacting industrial America and discovered that there’s more to it than meets the eye. Her curiosity drove her to interview over 100 executives across the country where she learned about the types of challenges companies and talent face in America's industrial sector. It was this experience combined with the desire to bridge the gulf between job seekers and employers that inspired the founding of Cluster.

You can find more about the talk with Micah Merrick on, and stream or download the podcast on iOS or Android.  

Don't Miss These Discussion Topics

  • Micah tells a tale about how Wisconsin entrepreneurs do product development
  • Kim’s early life in Waukesha County and early experiences
  • The early era of Michael Crow at Arizona State University
  • How Kim almost ended up as a journalist
  • Kim’s first job in the early days of online higher education
  • The “Jesus Factor” in online higher ed advertising
  • How “Regional Bias” affects online enrollment
  • The origins of the idea for Kim’s first company, Ranku
  • The Ranku story from initial idea to exit
  • The exploration process Kim used to come up with the idea for Cluster
  • There’s more to the “skills gap” than meets the eye
  • Is unemployment, or underemployment a bigger problem?
  • Kim explains the concept of “vertical labor marketplaces”
  • Why Kim doesn’t use IPEDS or BLS data to understand the labor market
  • Why screening for soft skills and values is actually harder than screening for hard skills
  • How Cluster develops the best profile of a candidate AND of the job itself (Hint: it’s not about keywords)
  • Why Kim feels work portfolios are unnecessary for more experienced hires
  • How Kim thinks about success for Cluster and for the workers using the platform
  • How Industry 4.0 is impacting manufacturing
  • The enormous change that is about to hit the manufacturing sector
  • The largest manufacturing sector in the U.S. isn’t located where you think it is
  • Why automation isn’t necessarily a bad thing for workers (Hint: because it gets rid of the three “D” jobs)
  • Why employers need to embed learning into the work of their employees every day
  • The reason that manufacturing spends 4x on employee training compared to other industries
  • Cluster’s future plans to help workers acquire new skills
  • What Elon Musk has done for manufacturing in the U.S.
  • To make the best hires, don’t focus on keywords or skills, focus on this instead (hint: you’ll know the answer if you listened to the last episode of the Skill Podcast!)
  • The most important thing companies can do for their workers

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