UK risks missing out on jobs and investment

UK risks missing out on jobs and investment

Date: Tuesday 23 October 2018

News UK risks missing out on jobs and investment

Urgent need to embrace technology through training

The UK is at risk of missing out on manufacturing jobs and investment if it fails to embrace the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution by preparing its workforce for technological transformation, according to a leading advanced manufacturing expert.

The world's major manufacturing companies are now looking for a digitally-enabled supply chain and employees who have the knowledge and technological skills to support an end-to-end digital transformation, according to the head of digital technology strategy at the Manufacturing Technology Centre.

Dr Lina Huertas said traditional stable jobs were being replaced by dynamic careers in digital manufacturing. The UK must recognise that fact and prepare its factories and workforce for the change, or global companies would migrate to the more digitally mature economies where talent is available.

She was speaking ahead of a major international conference next week at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry.  Some of Europe’s leading experts on the digital revolution sweeping through manufacturing industry will join forces on October 29 and 30 at the Digitalising Manufacturing 2018: Grasping the Opportunity. Manufacturing leaders from across Europe will tell delegates that the fourth industrial revolution opens up huge potential for UK manufacturers, but companies need a strategy and have to invest in skills and technology to reap the benefits.

Dr Huertas said:

"In the 1970s and 80s Japanese companies leapfrogged the UK and Europe in terms of competitiveness and productivity by adopting new manufacturing processes and putting people at the centre of the change. There is a danger this could happen again as the world's economies wake up to the digital revolution that is happening now. The major manufacturers need a supply chain with a talent pool of people prepared for the changes that technology brings.
There is evidence that the UK is already losing out in the field of automation, with manufacturers moving to economies where the skills are available, such as Germany and Japan. It is vital that our schools, colleges and factories prepare people for the skills required in a digital economy. If we can do that we will anchor the supply chain for high value manufacturing sectors in the UK. This will generate increased economic benefits and sustained social benefits through the generation of high value jobs," she said.

The two-day conference will give manufacturers support on how to progress the digital journey through skills, discussing international lessons and UK policy on day one, and providing an industrial perspective on requirements, resources available and practical lessons on day two.

The conference follows on from a similar sell-out conference last year which saw the launch of the Made Smarter initiative, outlining plans to boost the UK economy using advanced digital technologies including artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, 3D printing, and augmented and virtual reality.

Progress on the initiative will be assessed at the 2018 conference at which the keynote speaker will be Professor Juergen Maier, who is chief executive of Siemens UK and heads the Made Smarter initiative.

Dr Huertas said, “This event is aimed specifically at end-users and those who will be most affected by this digital industrial revolution. Drawing on the experiences of those who have already begun the process of implementation, the conference will aim to give a clear overview of the progress of digital manufacturing from a manufacturer’s point of view, providing insights on its potential for UK industry.”

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