Help on offer to embrace automation in an area likely to see the most impact

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 14 Nov 2018

South Bank businesses in the manufacturing and engineering sectors are being encouraged to look ahead and prepare their workforce with the skills of the future, as the automation of tasks rises.

With 41,000 employees in this sector, research by Localis found that Greater Lincolnshire could be one of the areas hit hardest in the UK, and approximately 35 per cent of jobs at risk of total automation in certain areas, such as warehousing, manufacturing and retail.

This rise in the automation of processes within the key sectors is resulting in a changing landscape for businesses, who need to make the most of the developments.

As job roles change and as well as investing in automation, businesses need to reskill staff to help support growth and ensure competitive advantage. Experts say that the key is to create an environment where automation is embraced rather than feared and one way of doing this is through providing staff with training opportunities for personal and professional development.

Read more: Additional funds available to support training

New roles will require employees to create, maintain and operate automated systems, as well as have the ability to adapt as technologies and processes evolve. To support businesses and their employees, a range of short, fully-funded training courses are being offered through the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) project.

Nigel Brough, overseeing the delivery of the £9m Skills Support for the Workforce fund in the region, said: “As automation becomes more commonplace in the manufacturing and engineering sectors, businesses need to accommodate the changes and take advantage of new opportunities.

“New jobs requiring a higher level of skill will be created and roles will evolve as the skills companies require will shift meaning businesses need to reskill staff so they are prepared for when the technology is in place and can reap the benefits of their investment in tech straight away. These changes will happen faster than ever so preparing, retraining and upskilling staff needs to be an urgent priority.”

Three benefits that skills training can provide are:

  • Adaptability: Automation is set to change the way we work forever, and businesses will need to continue adapting as technology develops and new projects and situations arise. Courses such as Performing Manufacturing Operations, Industrial Environment Awareness and Leading a Team in Business will ensure workers have the skills and development plans in place. They will be equipped to adapt to changes efficiently, and will be best placed to face any challenges that emerge.
  • Efficiency: Machines can break down so it’s important to have a team with the skills needed to provide both preventative and reactive maintenance. Courses such as Performing Manufacturing Engineering NVQ will help give employees the skills to do this. This will help keep productivity and efficiency up at a time where demand for UK products is at an all-time high.
  • Productivity: Increasing efficiency while maintaining the quality of products can be a challenge but is a necessary feat in order to keep up with increasing demand. Having team members who are able to introduce new processes can help businesses gain that competitive edge by increasing productivity. A leadership and management qualification will give staff the knowledge to lead a team and manage projects as they progress into senior management roles.

Committing to the investment to staff training isn’t always easy, and this is especially the case in such a fast moving sector.

Developed by the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) project, which offers fully-funded training courses, is co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency. The programme is facilitated by Calderdale College, which works with a network of local training providers in the Greater Lincolnshire region to ensure the training is delivered in a way that suits the business.

Last month, LEP chair Ursula Lidbetter MBE told UK Seafood Summit how automation needed to be embraced, flagging it up as one answer to potential Brexit labour shortages in the food sector.

Grimsby-born leading digital entrepreneur Jason Stockwood, has also written a book on the subject this year, Reboot: A Blueprint for Happy Human Business in the Digital Age.

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