How we can tackle the industry 4.0 skills gap

Industry 4.0 brings with it a whole host of new technology and innovations. However, it can also mean there will be a skills gap in the labour market. In this article, we will look at how employers and educational institutes can tackle this. 

 

How we can tackle this

In a market of uncertainty, with new technology evolving and the pace of change increasing, it is crucial to consider the business needs for the future.

A recent study released by McKinsey Global Institute found that roughly one-fifth of the global workforce will be impacted by the adoption of AI and automation, with the most significant impact in developed nations like the UK, Germany and US. By 2022, 50% of companies believe that automation will decrease their numbers of full-time staff and by 2030, robots will replace 800 million workers across the world.

Industry 4.0 encompasses a number of new technologies including VR, AI and cloud technology which automatically causes issues. One of the challenges that comes with modern technology is the new skills that are needed from employees to run the machines, code up new processes and the ability to fix new devices. Across the board, skills need to develop.

Apprenticeships

The skills gap within the engineering and manufacturing sector is no new issue. The Manufacturer report highlights that 71% of manufacturers believe apprenticeships are fast becoming a real alternative to higher education. Incoming talent can and should be learning from the highly skilled and experienced employees already embedded in the workforce.

By encouraging individuals to start a career in the sector early, companies can train and develop staff as experts – and, more importantly, evolve them with the new technology that's on the horizon.

Engaging with teenagers and young adults, incorporating them into businesses through apprenticeships and work placement programmes has exceptional benefits, especially within Industry 4.0.

Upskilling

Machine operators and technicians play a critical role in most manufacturing and engineering businesses. Alongside recruitment into these roles, there is also a need to upskill those already in organisations. 

If the UK is to become a driving force for Industry 4.0, every manufacturer needs to get involved in skills development, understand the skills needed in the factories of tomorrow, and invest in the development of these skills today.

Upskilling machine operators to diagnose faults and repair machines at source should mean that productivity will increase. It seems like a simple equation.

Education

According to the Higher Education 16 /17 report, over 1 million university students studied a STEM related course.

Universities can change their syllabus to be relevant to Industry 4.0 technologies. However, due to the longevity of creating up to date courses, it’s possible that universities can fall behind. At the moment, only a handful of universities in the UK are ready for Industry 4.0 with dedicated courses and facilities.

Which begs the question, will the UK be in a position to lead the way for Industry 4.0 or will we fall behind?

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