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Jobs on the rise, but what about the future?

Jobs in manufacturing have grown by 4.5 per cent since 2010 in the North West, but developments in artificial intelligence (AI) will change the nature of jobs in the sector, according to a new study.

EEF’s Regional Manufacturing Outlook 2018 reveals that “healthy demand emanating from both home and foreign markets” has translated into increased recruitment in the North West in 2018 - the joint biggest of any region in the UK.

As of March 2018, there were 350,000 manufacturing jobs across the region, a rise of 15,000 since 2010 - equivalent to more than one extra employee for every manufacturer. This means that manufacturing now makes up just under one in ten jobs in the North West.

Looking further forward, the future of jobs in UK manufacturing will very much depend on how businesses react to the significant opportunities presented by digital technologies and AI.

Research by PwC suggests that, despite creating as many jobs as it displaces across the whole economy, the rise of AI technology may lead to a drop in manufacturing jobs nationally.

As manual tasks are replaced by automated technologies, PwC estimates that manufacturing could see a net loss of 700,000 jobs by 2037.

Far from causing a decline in industry, however, the coming wave of digitalisation has the potential to herald a huge competitive boost for manufacturers, particularly those that can deploy human capabilities collaboratively and creatively alongside digital technology.

Euan Cameron, UK AI leader at PwC, said:

“People are understandably worried about the impact of AI on jobs, and businesses and the government need to address these concerns head-on. Our research highlights where the biggest impacts will be and which areas are most vulnerable, so that businesses and government can plan how best to help people develop the skills that will prepare them for the future.

“As our analysis shows, there will be winners and losers. It’s likely that the fourth industrial revolution will favour those with strong digital skills, as well as capabilities like creativity and teamwork which machines find it harder to replicate.”

GC Business Growth Hub’s specialist manufacturing services can support companies with the digital transition by helping decision-makers to understand what solutions are technologically feasible, how to utilise technologies effectively, and how to up-skill employees for a more creative and innovative future.

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