The future of the manufacturing workforce
How will industry be reshaped by digitalisation, and by other tidal changes such as decarbonisation and geopolitical turbulence? What impact will automation have on jobs and on skills? How will the global distribution of production change? And how will these impacts be felt across different industries, regions, and countries?
In recent years, various studies and initiatives have explored these issues, particularly the impact of digitalisation on changing workforce and skills demands, drawing on different data and approaching the topic from a range of perspectives. Together, these studies provide powerful insights into the possible demands facing the workforce, especially the skills that industry will need in order to sustain their activities.
To bring together some of these different analyses, the Babbage Industrial Policy Forum and the Institute for Manufacturing convened a workshop with an invited group of representatives from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the World Economic Forum, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), as well as the UK government.
The workshop was an opportunity to share findings from research into how changing and emerging technologies could affect the manufacturing workforce and to compare, for example, experiences between high- and low-income countries, and perspectives for corporate leaders and policy makers in government. Are there common challenges that face these and other stakeholders? What opportunities are there for connecting research and thinking for stronger evidence-based policy making?
This report covers some of the themes that emerged from this dialogue, including key points from each presentation and questions for further investigation. The report has an emphasis on changes resulting from the digitalisation of manufacturing, reflecting the focus of the research projects presented by the participants.