Reflecting Andy Stanford-Clark’s thesis that “automated jobs grow companies that need people”, the report saw potential for 15% sector growth within a decade, creating over 100,000 new manufacturing jobs, but warned: “If the UK’s investment in 4IR trails behind other advanced economies, our modelling sees significant financial and economic penalties.”
A survey quoted in the report found that four in five UK manufacturing businesses identified at least some potential for further commitment to automation. Those who had already invested in 4IR technologies responded that they had seen improved productivity (51%), reduced costs (45%) and better use of staff time (32%). But the report, authored by Barclays Head of Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics, Mike Rigby, warned “UK manufacturers are in need of support both to fully understand the potential of 4IR technologies, and to implement them within their businesses.”
From the podium at New Frontiers, Stanford-Clark sought to put the revolution into perspective, saying AI and automation are just two of “many disruptive technologies that have come along in our lifetime, from the PC to the barcode, all of which have changed the pattern of employment. Technology advances all the time, so we need a workforce ready to reskill constantly.
He continued: “It’s about learning flexibility, not a particular technology. What we really need to be doing is training the workforce – both the existing one and more importantly the emerging one – to be dynamic and flexible, so they’re not saying: ‘When’s the next disruption’, but instead know that disruption is a permanent state.”