Research from Made Smarter shows that 8 out of 10 manufacturers believe gaps in their skills and knowledge could impact the speed and scope at which they adopt digital technologies.
Experts from Made Smarter, which is helping SME manufacturers to join the Industry 4.0 revolution, say the movement is driving up the demand for data science and software engineering skills in particular.
Half of the 126 businesses that have adopted technology with the support of the Made Smarter North West pilot to-date have put data and systems integration at the heart of their plans.
However, while the technology is solving business challenges and driving growth, it is also highlighting a digital skills gap across industry.
Ruth Hailwood, Made Smarter's specialist organisational and workforce development advisor, said:
“The fact that 126 SME manufacturers have committed to investing in new technology projects in the two years since the pilot started, demonstrates the significant appetite for digital tools and solutions. And the impact of COVID-19 has only accelerated the desire to speed up digital transformation.
“But what has also become clear is that SME manufacturers lack the key data analytics skills to be able to make best use of what their data is telling them. They need in-house skills to champion and drive projects forward.”
One way that Made Smarter is helping bridge the skills gap is through a digital technology internship programme, which has so far connected 31 university students and graduates with SME manufacturers to work on live digital transformation projects.
Crystal Doors, a manufacturer of bespoke vinyl-wrapped furniture components in Rochdale, is one of the companies that has benefitted from the programme. Lewis Cookson, a BSc Computer Science and Digital Forensics graduate, has been supporting the implementation of a project that will connect Crystal Doors’ machines through the cloud onto a dashboard.
Ben Horn, Digital Transformation and Programme Manager at Crystal Doors, said:
“Our digitalisation plans are ambitious and will introduce technologies and concepts that are brand new to the workforce. We don’t want anyone left behind so the training and transition needs to be as easy and intuitive as possible. Upskilling our staff is key to its success.
“By bringing on Lewis through Made Smarter we have doubled the pace of the transformation. His input has been incredible and an injection of rocket fuel into our project.”
Lewis, 23, added:
“Crystal Doors has some very exciting plans for the future and it is fantastic to be part of that journey. It is exciting for me to be able to take my specialism and skills and apply them to a real life situation and see the results.”
For more information visit www.madesmarter.uk