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Businesses urged to prepare employees for an automated future

North Yorkshire and East Riding businesses in the manufacturing and engineering sectors are being encouraged to look ahead and prepare their workforce with the skills of the future, as the automation of tasks rises.

With 50,000 employees in this sector, research by Localis found that the Hull City Region, including East Riding, has a high percentage of jobs at high risk of automation.

This rise in the automation of processes within the manufacturing and engineering sectors is resulting in a changing landscape for businesses in North Yorkshire and East Riding, who must view the developments as an opportunity.

As job roles change, businesses need to reskill staff to help support growth and gain competitive advantage, as well as provide employees with an environment that supports the change.

New roles will require employees to create, maintain and operate automated systems, as well as have the ability to adapt as technologies and processes evolve. To help businesses future-proof and prepare employees, a range of short, fully-funded training courses are being offered through the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) project.

Cat Smith, overseeing the delivery of the £5.7m Skills Support for the Workforce fund in the region, said: “As automation becomes more commonplace in the manufacturing and engineering sectors, businesses need to accommodate the changes and reskill staff to ensure they can take advantage of the opportunities it presents.

“New jobs requiring a higher level of skill will be created and roles will evolve as the skills companies require will shift. These changes will happen faster than ever so preparing, retraining and upskilling staff needs to be an urgent priority.”

Experts say that employers also need to create an environment where automation is embraced rather than feared and one way of doing this is through providing staff with training opportunities for personal and professional development.

Three benefits that skills training can provide are:

1. Adaptability: Automation is set to change the way we work forever, and businesses will need to continue adapting as technology develops and new projects and situations arise. Courses such as Performing Manufacturing Engineering, Industrial Environment Awareness and Leading a Team in Business will ensure workers have the skills and development plans in place. They will be equipped to adapt to changes efficiently, and will be best placed to face any challenges that emerge.

2. Efficiency: Machines can break down so it’s important to have a team with the skills needed to provide both preventative and reactive maintenance. Courses such as Performing Manufacturing Engineering NVQ will help give employees the skills to do this. This will help keep productivity and efficiency up at a time where demand for UK products is at an all-time high.

3. Productivity: Increasing efficiency while maintaining the quality of products can be a challenge but is a necessary feat in order to keep up with increasing demand. Having team members who are able to introduce new processes can help businesses gain that competitive edge by increasing productivity. A leadership and management qualification will give staff the knowledge to lead a team and manage projects as they progress into senior management roles.

Committing to the investment to staff training isn’t always easy, and this is especially the case in such a fast moving sector.

The Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) project, which offers fully-funded training courses, is co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency. The programme is facilitated by Calderdale College, which works with a network of local training providers in the East Riding region to ensure the training is delivered in a way that suits the business.

For more information and to see if your business is eligible for fully-funded training please visit the Skills Support for the Workforce website.