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Manufacturers warn the UK is not ready for the fourth industrial revolution

(Image credit: Image Credit: IAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock)

Manufacturers have warned that the UK is not prepared to handle the next industrial revolution, which could see millions of jobs becoming obsolete as a result of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and increased automation.

The trade organisation EEF found that 42 per cent of all manufacturers in the country believe that they “have a good handle” in terms of being prepared to operate in a world where AI and robots have become commonplace. However, only one it ten of those who participated in EEF's research think that the UK is ready for the fundamental changes that will occur in the next 10 to 20 years.

Lee Hopley, Chief economist at EEF, offered more details on the results of the organisation's research, saying: “Manufacturers are ready to do the heavy lifting, but their efforts must be supported across the sector and supply chains and backed up by Government through its new industrial strategy. If we get this approach right then the UK can expect to be at the forefront of this global industrial wave – get it wrong, however, and the UK will be left trailing in its wake.”

Currently the idea of a fourth industrial revolution refers to a time in the near future when smart technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous cars and robots will change our daily lives significantly, due to the fact that many occupations and industries will cease to exist as a result of these emerging technologies.

According to EEF's report, six out of 10 manufacturers believe that digital technologies will help boost productivity, although 74 per cent of those surveyed are of the opinion that customer expectations will change drastically as a result of the fourth industrial revolution.

Manufacturers in the UK are worried that the country will be left behind without the proper support and 70 per cent said that the rise of these new digital technologies will occur at a much faster rate than any previous changes to the manufacturing industry. 

Image Credit: IAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.