The increased use of ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies within UK factories will cause a significant swing towards higher skilled positions which will benefit the South East over the Midlands and the North of England, according to a new study.
The Go Fourth report by national law firm Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economic & Business Research (Cebr), examines the latest trends and impact on the manufacturing sector of new technologies such as fully autonomous robots, 3D printing and augmented reality.
These technologies, often referred to as the fourth wave of the Industrial Revolution, create ‘smart factories’ which offer many benefits including higher productivity, increased speed of production and improved product quality.
A common fear associated with Industry 4.0 is a loss of jobs but according to the study, employment levels within the manufacturing sector will increase by 0.8 per cent between now and 2021 as a result of the increased utilisation of Industry 4.0 technology.
It says, however, certain occupations will be hit harder and the impact of this will be felt to a greater extent in some areas of the UK.
The report forecasts that in the next four years, lower skill professions and administrative jobs will fall, while there will be a 12 per cent increase in managers, directors and senior officials and a 7 per cent rise for professional occupations.
The report reveals that manufacturers in the East Midlands and Yorkshire employ the highest percentage of at-risk occupation groups, while London and the South East employ the least.
In the South East, for example, only 5 per cent of jobs are elementary occupations, for which employment is expected to decline by 10 per cent by 2021, while the figure for the North West is 8 per cent.
These regional results suggest Industry 4.0 will generate a change in the distribution of manufacturing jobs within the country.
Dorrien Peters, partner at Irwin Mitchell and head of the firm’s manufacturing sector group, said: “While one in three businesses surveyed believe that Industry 4.0 will reduce employment in the next decade, the report forecasts that on aggregate, employment will be stable until 2021.
“The distribution in terms of type of job and the location is set to change considerably and could have major repercussions for a large number of businesses.”Discover More