Robots will create, rather than cut, jobs in UK manufacturing

Investing in robotic technology will lead to job creation in the manufacturing industry rather than job cuts, according to the latest research by Barclays.

The Future-proofing UK Manufacturing report claims that far from having a negative impact on the workforce, automation will safeguard many jobs and greatly increase productivity.

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The report indicates that although the manufacturing sector does utilise robots, it could be embracing the technology in a bigger way. The UK currently uses around half as many robots as Germany, example, and the Barclays report says that increased robotics funding would lead to significant benefits. Additional investment of £1.2 billion in automation could increase the value of the manufacturing sector to the UK economy by £60.5 billion over the next decade.

It would also encourage growth of £38 billion within the manufacturing industry itself and help protect in excess of 100,000 jobs. This is in stark contrast to the current momentum of the UK manufacturing sector, where companies like Rolls-Royce have recently announced job cuts. It also goes against the commonly-held view that robots will soon cause many people to be out of work.

“Put simply, increased automation could allow UK manufacturers, and their supply chains, to more effectively compete domestically with importers of manufactured goods from both lower-cost and higher-productivity international markets, as well as helping them to succeed in growing export destinations,” explained report author Mike Rigby. “In contrast, our research shows that continued investment at the anticipated business-as-usual level is likely to result in a greater reduction in employment in the UK manufacturing sector over the next five to 10 years.”

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As well as greater investment in robotics, the report also stresses that businesses require more support and assistance from suppliers, the government and other interested parties when it comes to automation, if the UK is to compete on an even playing field with its international competitors.

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