High demand for robotics skills in post-Corona recovery

07 August 2020

By 2022, an operational stock of almost 4 million industrial robots are expected to be at work in factories worldwide, playing a vital role in automating production to speed up the post-Corona economy.

According to Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics, there is now a need to focus on providing the right skills necessary to work with robots and intelligent automation systems. “This is important to take maximum advantage of the opportunities that these technologies offer. The post-Corona recovery will further accelerate the deployment of robotics. Policies and strategies are important to help workforces make the transition to a more automated economy,” he said.

According to the ‘automation readiness index’ published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), only four countries have already established mature education policies to deal with the challenges of an automated economy. South Korea is the category leader, followed by Estonia, Singapore and Germany. Countries like Japan, the US and France are developed and China was ranked as emerging. The EIU summed up the order of the day for governments: more study, multi-stakeholder dialogue and international knowledge sharing.

How to change hiring
On a company level, change hiring is an option as a short-term strategy: “If you can´t find the experienced people, you have to break down your hiring practices to skill sets and not titles,” said Dr Byron Clayton, as CEO of Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) at the IFR Roundtable in Chicago. “You have to hire more for potential. If you can´t find the person who is experienced, then you have to find a person that has potential to learn that job.”

Robot suppliers support the education of the workforce with practice-oriented training. “Re-training the existing workforce is only a short-term measure. We must already start way earlier – curricula for schools and undergraduate education need to match the demand of the industry for the workforce of the future. Demand for technical and digital skills is increasing, but equally important are cognitive skills like problem-solving and critical thinking,” said Dr Susanne Bieller, IFR’s general secretary. “Economies must embrace automation and build the skills required to profit - otherwise they will be at a competitive disadvantage.”

IFR has produced a positioning paper entited ‘Robots and the Workplace of the Future’. It can be downloaded at: https://ifr.org/downloads/papers/IFR_Robots_and_the_Workplace_of_the_Future_Positioning_Paper.pdf

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