Skill - Kim Taylor - CEO of Cluster - Hiring and Upskilling Engineers for Industry 4.0

Kim Taylor is the Founder and CEO of Cluster, a venture-backed marketplace that matches engineers to jobs and training in the industrial sector. Initially, Kim was trying to understand how the "skills gap" was impacting industrial America. But when she found a SpaceX engineer who couldn't switch careers, she realized something was wrong with this theory. Kim tells us how her 2nd venture backed company, Cluster, is solving the real problems facing industrial tech talent in America, today.

Is there a “skills gap” for manufacturing talent? Is unemployment the largest problem facing American industry? Kim tackled these questions by talking to over 100 executives across the country. Eventually, she not only answered these questions, but started her own company, Cluster, to help solve them.

On Episode 13 of the Skill Podcast, Micah shares a conversation with Kim Taylor, Founder and CEO of Cluster, a venture-backed marketplace that matches engineers to jobs and training in the industrial sector. Cluster was inspired by her family’s history in advanced manufacturing in Wisconsin and her background in online learning.

Micah and Kim discuss the impact of Industry 4.0 on the manufacturing sector and how Cluster is helping employers and talent adapt to these major changes.

Throughout this conversation, Kim and Micah cover the following 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