Skip to content
Northern Powerhouse European Union

Automation and robotics ‘most important skills’ in next decade

Skills in automation, robotics and mechatronics are expected to be the most important to manufacturing engineers over the next decade, with lean and resource efficiency also high up the list.


The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) commissioned a survey of their members, asking them how they thought engineering roles may change in the future and which competencies will be most important.

More than four fifths (84 per cent) put skills in ‘automation, robotics and mechatronics’ at the top of the list. This was followed by ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) on 69 per cent, and ‘sustainable, lean, resource efficient manufacturing’ on 66 per cent.

Communication skills, creativity and design-thinking ranked as the top three non-engineering competencies of ‘highest importance’ for future manufacturing engineers, according to the members surveyed.

Commenting on the findings in its Professional Engineering magazine, IMechE said:

“Given the rapid pace of change in technology, engineers will have to upskill/retrain multiple times throughout their careers. Clearly, future manufacturing engineers will want to harness the massive increase in data availability and analytics being enabled through increased investment in digital technology.

“On sustainability and climate change, future manufacturing engineers will be at the forefront of securing improved non-labour, resource productivity, and, with that, increased productivity too, making more with less.

“A thriving manufacturing sector, one that can add new overseas markets, and build the confidence needed to unlock sustainable jobs and prosperity, is possible. For businesses to be a part of this, there is a need to invest in new digital technologies, net zero measures and, above all, invest in people.”

SME manufacturers in Greater Manchester can access fully funded advice and guidance to capitalise on opportunities for automation, digitalisation and sustainability through our twin Manufacturing and Sustainability Services.

Direct support with implementing automation and robotics is available from the North of England Robotics Innovation Centre (NERIC) at Salford University.

Share this post