Twice as many employers said new and emerging technologies – such as automation and artificial intelligence - will see their workforce grow (20 per cent) over the next three years compared to those who think it will shrink (9 per cent), with the majority citing improved efficiency (81 per cent) and precision (65 per cent) and new business opportunities (55 per cent) as likely benefits. According to ECITB, the outcome of the survey was somewhat surprising, with more pessimism around the potential negative impacts of automation anticipated.
“This report throws up some unexpected results, with more confidence around the impact of technology on job numbers than we might have expected and positive views of the impact on productivity and profitability of businesses,” said Chris Claydon, chief executive of ECITB.
“Technology is a major driver of change across the engineering construction industry and will impact on all sectors – from oil and gas, to renewables to pharmaceuticals. With the industry set to grow by 33,000 jobs in the next decade, we must ensure the workforce is future proofed. This means making sure companies can recruit new talent with advanced digital skills and upskilling the current workforce in the use of new technologies, so that employers can maximise the opportunities Industry 4.0 presents.”
Despite the overall positive outlook, employers in the sector still face numerous challenges when it comes to harnessing new technologies and processes. Some of those identified include time (34 per cent), resource constraints (30 per cent) and a lack of required skills among the existing workforce (19 per cent). While 42 per cent of employers in the sector are already implementing digital technologies such as big data analytics, augmented reality or virtual reality, 20 per cent said that new technology is not immediately relevant to their business.
The report is available to download in full here.