UK manufacturing and engineering companies have worrying gaps in their training provision and readiness for Industry 4.0, according to a new report published this week.
As many as a quarter of companies are delivering less than 10 hours of training to employees each year on average. With the wider results reflecting a lack of optimism around a greater commitment to, and role for, training in the next five years.
Undertaken by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), and commissioned by global drive and control company, Bosch Rexroth, the study covered topics including the structure of training, Industry 4.0, apprenticeships, links to academia, and maintenance.
Automated production processes and modern automation techniques were identified as the areas where the greatest gaps in knowledge exist.
According to the results, most companies are taking on apprentices each year, with little evidence of a lack of quality applicants, all demonstrating recognition of the commitment necessary in this area to attract and retain young recruits in the coming years.
Perhaps most troubling in the context of the overall competitiveness of UK manufacturing and engineering was the recognition of, and readiness for, Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Based on the creation of smart factories with optimised connectivity between workers and machines, more than two-thirds of respondents had not heard of Industry 4.0 and even among those who had, well over half weren’t engaged in any specific training in preparation for it.
The survey also revealed content for training courses offered from manufacturers, academia, industry bodies, equipment suppliers and other interested parties rarely addressed industry needs and had a far from joined-up approach.
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