A new Make UK/Sage analysis concludes that a digital skills account to provide employees with access to life-long learning is needed alongside a National Skills Taskforce to develop a digital skills programme.
British manufacturing companies moved at speed towards digitalisation when the pandemic struck, with nearly half switching to digital working practices within two weeks of lockdown, according to new research, ‘Digital Skills for a Digital Manufacturing Future’, published by Make UK and Sage.
With just a fortnight’s digital installation and planning, 94% of companies said they had staff working successfully from home in industries often associated with manual tasks and a high proportion of production-based work.
Some 91% of those manufacturers benefitted from adopting new digital technologies during the crisis. And eight out of ten companies said they would continue to adopt new working practices having seen the quick benefits. A quarter of companies polled found utilising new digital technologies had boosted productivity and 12% said it had increased production levels.
Some 87% of manufacturers said investing in digital training gave them a competitive advantage, and nearly two-thirds (64%) had undertaken training to improve digital skills in the last 12 months. Interestingly, it was the very smallest and largest companies which were more likely to have taken on such training – 83% of companies with up to 9 employees and 94% employing more than 1000 staff.
45% of companies said they had already changed their skills training and strategies in the light of COVID 19. However, a third of companies have not invested in any digital training in the last year. Cost pressures and the need to socially distance has meant that two thirds of companies have put some or all of their training on hold.
Two-thirds of manufacturers do not think the education and training system is keeping pace with digital technology advancements – indicating a serious lag between the UK’s ambitions to be a world leader in digital adoption and our skills and training system delivering what is needed.
Make UK concludes that, to futureproof the sector, Government and industry need to establish a National Skills Taskforce, to deliver a digital skills programme and a digital skills account for lifelong learning to enable ongoing reskilling.