5 December, 2021

Technology adoption by manufacturers driving demand for digital skills

26 January, 2021

SME manufacturers joining the Industry 4.0 revolution are driving up the demand for data science and software engineering skills, according to Made Smarter, the movement helping businesses grow through technology adoption.


Half of the 126 businesses adopting technology with the support of the Made Smarter North West pilot have put data and systems integration at the heart of their productivity and growth plans.

By embracing technologies which connect disparate systems and unify data residing in different sources, companies are spotting trends in production, labour, maintenance and quality issues. They are also able to minimise safety risks, business risk and operational downtime throughout their production.

But while this technology is solving business challenges and driving growth, it is also highlighting a digital skills gap across industry and emphasising the need for existing workforces to be upskilled.

Ruth Hailwood, Made Smarter's specialist organisational and workforce development adviser, has worked with many of the 1,140 businesses engaged with Made Smarter’s pilot to map the skills they need to introduce new digital tools and technologies.

“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,” she said. “And the impact of COVID-19 has only accelerated the desire to speed up digital transformation.

“Data and systems integration projects have emerged as the enabler for businesses to embrace other technologies such as AI, IIOT, Simulation and analytics, taking in more than half of all funded projects

“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.

“With so many businesses using data and system integration technologies it is vital that companies invest in data science skills and software engineering to capitalise on all the new information. They need in-house skills to champion and drive projects forward.”

One way that Made Smarter is helping bridge that 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.

SME manufacturers benefit from the fresh insight of a digital native to help them adopt technological tools that result in a raft of benefits, including increased revenue growth, reduced production time, and produce the data and insight for new product and market development.

Meanwhile, undergraduates, master’s and PhD students, as well as graduates from UK universities, are benefitting from paid work experience, valuable hands-on practical work experience, a taste of a potential career path, and a foot in the door of a forward-thinking company or industry. A number have even secured permanent jobs.




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