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Firms plan to invest in automation, but training is lagging

13 September, 2022

An ABB survey of business leaders in Europe and the US has revealed that most are planning to invest in automation and to re-shore their manufacturing operations in the next few years. But another survey, also conducted by ABB, has discovered a lack of investment in the education and training needed to develop the skills needed for the increasingly automated and connected workplaces of the future.

The survey of business leaders found that 74% of European and 70% of US businesses are planning to re-shore or near-shore their operations to make their supply chains more resilient in the face of global uncertainty, labour shortages, and the need for sustainability. Most of these businesses view automation as being a key enabler for these changes, with 75% of European and 62% of US businesses planning to invest in robotics and automation in the coming three years.

But there is a significant gap in the education and training needed to ensure the skills for these plans. The second survey – of education professionals – found that while 80% of them believe that robots and automation will shape the future of employment in the coming ten years, only one in four education institutions are currently using robots as part of their teaching programmes.

“We need significant investment in continuous education to prepare our existing and future workforce to thrive in an age of robotics and automation – not only to prepare for the widespread shifts we are seeing, but to create prosperous societies going forward,” says Sami Atiya, president of ABB’s Robotics & Discrete Automation business.

“Change needs to happen now,” he adds. “As companies turn to robotic automation to offset labour shortages, improve efficiency and increase resilience, workers need the skillsets to use automation to perform their jobs and augment their own roles. Businesses need to join forces, cooperating with education institutions and Governments to ensure that society is prepared for jobs of the future. Only through this can we fully utilise flexible automation and unlock value from the ongoing re-industrialisation.”

Robotics and automation education is lagging behind firms’ plans to invest in these areas, warns ABB

To help bridge the skills gap, ABB has bolstered its global robotics and automation education programme with several new training centres, including the €100m global innovation and training campus at B&R’s headquarters in Austria. This site, along with new regional training centres in the UK, Germany and Brazil, has expanded ABB’s training facilities to more than 40 sites globally. Every year, the company says, it is educating more than 30,000 students from schools, colleges and universities, as well as apprentices and workers.

And through more than 100 partnerships with schools and universities around the globe, ABB is generating curriculum materials to help educate future generations and prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow.

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