Five Steps to Preparing for the Future in the Manufacturing Sector.

Author:Coussins, Andy

The manufacturing sector currently contributes 6.7 trillion [pounds sterling] to the global economy. Despite being subject to regular negative reports, the UK continues to play a significant role in the evolution and growth of global manufacturing.

This is further supported by the Office of National Statistics, which claims that UK manufacturing has increased by 1.4 percent every year since 1948-a growth attributed in part to upskilled workforces, along with advancements in automation and technology. In addition, the CBI reports that UK factory output is growing at its fastest pace since December, and a third of manufacturers are reporting above-normal order books.

It's clear that the forecast is looking bright for the industry, presenting British businesses with opportunities to take advantage of this upward trend. However, continued growth cannot be assumed--particularly in the current political climate, where there are as many challenges to overcome as opportunities to benefit from. In order to remain succesful and ensure the UK becomes one of the top five industrial nations in the world, manufacturers must prepare for their future within the global manufacturing landscape. Here, we discuss five steps that manufacturers can take in order to drive business growth and stay ahead of the competition.

1) Upskilling current workforces

Research[i] has found that the industrial workforce is getting older, and that just under a quarter (23%) of businesses are currently able to attract recruits with the right knowledge. With over half the industry's workforce aged over 35, and a third aged over 40, businesses in manufacturing are facing a dangerous skills gap on their factory floors. Smart organisations should consider turning to their current workforce and investigating the transferable talent and skills it holds. An agile and skilled workforce that can take on new technologies will equip businesses to embrace the opportunities, and also face the challenges, of Industry 4.0.

Businesses can work to do this by identifying where the upskilling needs to happen, and then aligning the training to the overarching business strategy. Technology can play a key role in this, with software such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) delivering actional insights, on a companywide scale, that businesses can then use to identify potential training opportunities.

2) Creating additional revenue streams.

In order to hold on to their competitive advantage...

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