The survey revealed that two-thirds of respondents were not aware of Industry 4.0 and the majority of those that were aware of it are not undertaking specific Industry 4.0 training. It also showed that 40 per cent of respondents identified gaps in training for automated production processes while more than half viewed finding the right training course to meet employee needs a major challenge
Entitled ’Tackling the training gap in UK manufacturing: remaining competitive in rapidly changing times’, the survey, undertaken by the Institute of Engineering and Technology, garnered responses from around 100 decision makers within the sector. It covered topics including the structure of training, Industry 4.0, apprenticeships, links to academia, and maintenance.
The study revealed that, in as many as a quarter of companies, less than ten hours of training is delivered to employees each year on average. Meanwhile, results found there was no widespread optimism around a greater commitment to, and role for, training in the next five years. Automated production processes and modern automation techniques were identified as the areas where the greatest gaps in knowledge exist.
There was some optimism around apprenticeships, with most companies taking on apprentices each year, and 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 industry was the recognition of and readiness for Industry 4.0. Also, known as the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 is based on the creation of smart factories with optimised connectivity between people and machines. More than two-thirds of respondents had not heard of Industry 4.0 and even among those who had, well over half were not 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.
Richard Chamberlain, service product manager at Bosch Rexroth, summarised the findings: “The adoption of Industry 4.0 in many countries is happening at a rapid pace and it is vital that the UK is not left behind. A strategic and properly funded approach to training is the best route forward, with content that adds value and fully equips participants to play their part in extracting maximum yield from capital investments.
“There is a clear need for greater collaboration in this area to deliver relevant and cost-effective courses, using the most suitable media, to optimise skill levels and enable UK companies to remain at the forefront of innovation and quality.”