Government must show leadership with automation

Posted on 17 Oct 2019 and read 826 times
Government must show leadership with automationA recent report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (BEIS), which looks at the state of automation in the UK, has been welcomed by Fanuc UK’s managing director, Tom Bouchier.

The Automation and the future of work report highlights how the UK’s adoption of automation is being hampered by a lack of action from the Government, with entire regions of the country at risk of being left behind by G7 competitors.

It argues that, unless concerted efforts are made to manage the transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, UK businesses will miss a pivotal opportunity for economic growth.

Mr Bouchier said: “The report urges the Government to establish a ‘Robot and AI Strategy’ by 2020, which is a crucial step in building confidence among businesses, industries and universities.

“There is significant appetite for automation, but the Government needs to take the lead on co-ordinating efforts to capitalise on emerging technologies.

“The UK has great potential, with a superb base of technology and research, but by embracing robots at a slower pace than our international competitors, we risk falling behind.”

The report also discourages the notion of a ‘robot tax’, which would inhibit the adoption of automation and work against the interests of businesses and workers.

It argues that the Government should incentivise investment in new technology such as robots, given the likely boost this will give to SMEs.

Reflecting on the barriers to automation, the report suggests that a lack of awareness and understanding is particularly damaging, and it criticises the Government’s decision to close the Manufacturing Advice Service in 2015 as indicative of a nation yet to grasp the importance of educating and supporting businesses on emerging technologies.

Mr Bouchier added: “Education and generating awareness of the power of automation are perhaps the biggest challenges we face in UK manufacturing, and it is something that needs to be addressed at all levels.

“It starts by ensuring that school and university curriculums are exposing people to new technologies from
a young age, providing a clear entry route for everyone.

“Also crucial is that we continue to educate higher up the chain.

“We need to support the Government by offering specialist support on technical matters, so that it can show the strong leadership that we are asking for.

“The report calls for funding of an impartial source of advice for businesses looking to invest in automation, which is the type of support that SMEs need to compete on the world stage.”

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