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As manufacturers start to see the benefits of digital skills during the pandemic, this now has to be a priority for the sector

New report from industry body, Make UK is calling for a national strategy to deliver a digital skills programme to ensure the UK becomes a world leader in digital adoption

 The pandemic has seen the manufacturing industry see real benefits of workforces learning new digital skills to ensure organisations can continue working and in some cases increase production levels.

Indeed, a report by Make UK, the manufacturing industry body, found that 91 percent of manufacturers said that they benefited from adopting new digital technologies during the pandemic. Encouragingly, it also found that 8 out of 10 manufacturers will continue to adopt new working practices over the coming the months.

Make UK is now calling on the sector and the Government to ensure that this momentum is not lost over the coming weeks and months. Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK said: “The last six months have shown that digital has been crucial in making it possible for manufacturers to continue production successfully against the backdrop of COVID – highlighting the need to ramp up digital skills within the manufacturing sector even further as companies move to build future resilience and boost productivity.”

So, it is clear that many in the sector have seen huge benefits of digital working and learning new digital skills. However, as Tom Moore, Director at Acronyms describes the need to ensure that the rate of training and technology implementation needs to remain high.

“Undoubtedly, the pandemic has caused a real acceleration in digital trends in the manufacturing sector. The need to implement technology that allowed for remote production and monitoring systems and even allowing staff to work from home had to be brought in quickly.

“However, this momentum cannot be lost. The pandemic has meant that the way we work has changed forever and digital and IT are going to play a central role in this new world. In the Make UK report it found that two-thirds of manufacturing firms do not think that education and training provision is keeping pace with the changes in technology.

“This has to be rectified, any skills gaps have to be closed and workforces have to be comfortable in using the new technology, even if they are working outside of their usual environment. The implementation of new technology is a real positive for the sector, but it can only work effectively if the workforce is comfortable in doing so.

“Some companies are turning to consultancies to help with the implementation of new technology and ensure that staff are trained. During a period of huge change, also ensuring that technology introduced is future proofed. Bringing in a third party to advise on what will work now, but also provide support in the face of a changing workplace and regulatory landscape,” Moore concluded.