The importance of the right skills

Published:  15 July, 2020

As the UK begins to come out of lockdown, recent surveys highlight how a post-COVID-19 world might look like. Many manufacturers according to One World Express, may look to expand into new global markets, and not rely on any one single market as previously. The lockdown has also opened up opportunities by selling to new demographically diverse customers which may continue beyond the pandemic.

But taking advantage of these opportunities and to help recovery will require the right level of employees with the appropriate level of skills, abilities and attitudes as highlighted by Leigh Anderson, managing director of Bis Henderson, who also emphasises that only through having the correct strategy in place for staffing levels will manufacturers be able to come through the COVID-19 crisis. This, Anderson says, means new skillsets will be required from the operator level through to the executive and Board. Firms should therefore be planning and acting now, through recruitment and retraining, the skills they will depend on in the recovery.

By realigning the skillsets of the workforce, either through retraining or recruitment, this will also mean that some roles will increase in number and importance; while some new roles will be created. This is highlighted by the move towards automation, which will require technical skills - programmers, maintenance engineers - but also as Anderson emphasises, managers who understand how to integrate automation with existing manual processes and have a vision of where it can be most effective.

Supply chains for example, he explains, are likely to be more volatile – procurement skills may need to be more relational, less transactional. Ultimately UK businesses are pivoting and seeking growth opportunities in new markets as they seek ways of overcoming the COVID-19 crisis, and it is only through genuine co-operation with employees and ensuring the right level of skills that recovery can take place and new opportunities could arise from this difficult period.

Aaron Blutstein, Editor, Plant & Works Engineering  and Smart Machines & Factories magazines

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