In the UK, manufacturing is a thriving industry that directly employs 2.6 million people and sectors such as the aerospace industry generate annual revenue in excess of £30 billion, providing excellent careers for well over 100,000 people. Our position as a major world player is founded on a highly-skilled workforce, institutional knowledge and a history of technological advances. Retaining this strong global reputation is essential to economic wellbeing but also continued growth.
However, the world is changing fast. New advances in automation are transforming traditional processes, with industrial robots replacing people in more and more industries. We need to question whether a skilled workforce will be needed in the future. If robots will be making autonomous decisions driven by “big-data”, we can imagine a future with no requirement for human intervention in the manufacturing process, and therefore no need to maintain a strong skills base.
This logic is flawed, of course. It is only through a deep human understanding of manufacturing processes that a shift towards automation is possible at all. The companies and industries that invest in skills and training will be the ones that make the fastest advances in automation. Read more.