Made Smarter launches Guiding Principles to drive industrial digitilisation

Government, industry and trade unions have come together in an unprecedented way to launch a new set of Guiding Principles to help companies and the workforce make the most of the increasing drive towards a new digital era for manufacturing.

 According to Made Smarter, by 2030 the UK could be the global leader in the creation, adoption and export of advanced digital technologies, shaping how the modern world does business.

These new technologies will enable faster, more responsive and more efficient processes to deliver improved productivity and higher quality products at a reduced cost.

Made Smarter Statistics - Through digital technologies, the UK manufacturing sector could ...

It’s critical that a wider take up of the new technologies is done in a way that isn’t disruptive but produces good jobs, improved productivity and a clean footprint.

To achieve that, Made Smarter has designed a set of guiding principles which it’s asking companies to commit to themselves, as well as extending the relationship to their supply chains.

The six Guiding Principles for Digitilisation

1. Partnership at Work

A strong partnership is essential to any process of change. Employers will share plans for and address any issues arising from the introduction of digital technology through co-operation, consultation and mutual agreement with the workforce including union representatives where they are present at the workplace. It is a shared ambition that digital technology delivers better jobs, on decent terms and conditions.

2. Health, safety, welfare and environment

Industrial Digitalisation presents opportunities to improve safety and environmental impact in the workplace, throughout the supply chain and across society. Companies will assess any potential impacts on health, safety and sustainability arising from the use of digital technology and conduct appropriate training to mitigate any associated risks and to make the most of opportunities for improvement.

3. Developing digital skills for the future

Employers and employees have a shared ownership of skills development. This should be supported through organisational and personal development plans. Companies will ensure that people have access to the training they need. Government and employees (or their union representatives) will be part of the partnership on retraining. Employees and unions, where they are present, will be engaged in developing and agreeing retraining plans.

4. Respect at work

All workers are entitled to high standards of treatment. Job satisfaction, rather than job intensity, will lead to improved productivity. The sharing of data and trust in its use is critical. Companies should consider developing codes of conduct on data use, including within supply chains, drawn up in consultation with the workforce and their representatives. Companies need to demonstrate that employee data is secure and that they are in compliance with regulations.

5. Job Security and enhancement

Growth generated by digital technology should be reinvested, where possible, into areas that provide more opportunities and better jobs within the organisation. Individuals should see their roles enhanced as a consequence of digital technology. This will require open and creative ways to generate ideas for new products and/or areas for investment.

6. Equalities, diversity and inclusion

Digitalisation can support inclusivity but issues, including new ways of working and working time, job design, job evaluation, access to training, retraining and progression, can all have equality and diversity implications. Equality impact assessments should be included within any organisations’ plans for digitalisation. 

Professor Juergen Maier, chair of the Made Smarter Commission, commented: “To make a success of this Fourth Industrial revolution, it needs to be truly inclusive. That means strong partnerships when it comes to digitalisation, technology deployment and upskilling and the Made Smarter work is totally committed to that.

“We’ve long said we need a workforce ready for technology disruption and 1 million existing workers need new digital skills. This partnership between government, industry and the TUC is the first step in developing a detailed roadmap to deliver this”