The UK manufacturing industry faces two major challenges as it aims to produce high-quality products in a high-wage economy while competing with low-wage regions of the world.
The size of the skills issue
Research conducted by Semta, the sector skills council for science engineering and manufacturing technologies, indicates that the manufacturing industry needs to recruit and train 82,000 engineers, scientists and technicians across the UK by 2016. On top of that 363,000 of the current technical workforce is qualified below world class standards and needs to be skilled up.
The problem with automation
UK manufacturers have been slow in their uptake of automation technology, lagging well behind their competitors in developed nations including France, Italy, Spain and Sweden as well as Germany and Japan.
At last count, the UK has a mere 25 robots per 10,000 employees as opposed to 127 in Germany, 114 in Italy, 57 in Spain and 56 in France.
There is evidence that this situation is changing, but much of the growth in the area has come primarily from the automotive industry meaning that many other UK sectors are missing out on the benefits of automation.
To assist in generating solutions to these issues The Manufacturer has created two events on skills and automation which will run side-by-side in London on February 26.
The skills event, titled Driving Skills Development in the Workforce, will focus on finding more innovative and creative approaches to sourcing skilled employees and will feature presentations from a range of manufacturers including Jaguar Land Rover, BAE Systems and The Authentic Food Company.
The automation event, titled Automate UK, will help you understand how cost and time efficiencies can be achieved through automation, how to effectively finance implementation and what human capital changes are required.