Prepare now for the future

Published:  13 May, 2020

Preparing now for a potentially very different manufacturing landscape and investing in skills during this difficult period may not be possible for everyone, but by doing so it will help to ensure that firms retain their competitive advantage and grow their businesses, as well as being able to maintain their talent to be able to thrive in a post-COVID 19 world.

Despite the continuing business uncertainty, and without minimising the devastating impact of COVID-19, it’s important not to lose sight of the digitalisation business opportunities that are emerging. and it will be in these areas that the importance of new skills will be required. For example in future, employers will need a multiskilled workforce – people who can take care of a wide range of problems that may arise in the day-to-day Editor’s Comment ‘ ’ operation of manufacturing. Skilled workers will still be needed, but they will undertake different tasks and have different skill sets. In an interconnected, data-driven world, maintenance engineers are increasingly required to be software and hardware engineers, and even drone operators. PWE’s consultant editor, Andy Pye, takes a closer look in this month’s Training feature on page 12, where he examines how maintenance processes are changing, and with them the skillsets needed by maintenance personnel.

But also other training skills are also required within manufacturing businesses. For example new online training platforms are helping to provide opportunities to learn new skills for manufacturers that will also be needed more generally. The Government recently launched its Skills Toolkit – a new online platform that provides free high-quality training in digital and numeracy skills. The Toolkit offers a range of courses at all levels from introductory to advanced which have been chosen after consulting with businesses and education and training providers. The courses are open to all employees, whether or not they have been furloughed. Employers are asked to encourage their employees to take up these learning opportunities where appropriate so they can develop a higher skilled workforce. There is a particular focus on digital skills which are sought after by over 80% of current job vacancies.

During the coronavirus lockdown there has been a shift is acknowledging the importance of developing new digital skills and focusing on specific areas that engineers will need to help to prepare manufacturing businesses for the recovery that will come over the next few months and years. We must all ensure that this period is not wasted and that we invest wherever possible in developing and nurturing the skills required for a potentially a very different manufacturing landscape in order to ensure the prosperity and future of UK manufacturing and consequently the UK economy.

Aaron Blutstein, Editor

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