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UK could be left behind as fourth industrial revolution looms - report

Published 28/11/2016

EEF predicted mire high-skilled jobs through
EEF predicted mire high-skilled jobs through "smarter" production methods and digital technologies

Manufacturers are gearing up for a "fourth industrial revolution" but warn that the country could be left behind because of the pace of change, a report shows.

Research by the EEF revealed that most firms believe the next revolution (4IR) will happen faster than previous changes in manufacturing, with two out of five worried about how to keep up.

The manufacturers' organisation predicted mire high-skilled jobs through "smarter" production methods and digital technologies.

Companies recognise they will have to adapt to meet customer expectations and remain competitive, said the EEF.

Chief economist Lee Hopley said: "4IR is happening and the UK's success in this global industrial transformation will hinge on manufacturers' strategies and ambitions.

"4IR goes far beyond simply investing in new technologies and techniques - this new era requires cultural shifts, new business models and the ability to adapt and innovate. Above all, it requires strong leadership.

"Manufacturers are ready to do the heavy lifting, but their efforts must be supported across the sector and supply chains and backed up by Government through its new industrial strategy.

"If we get this approach right then the UK can expect to be at the forefront of this global industrial wave. Get it wrong, however, and the UK will be left trailing in its wake."

Labour spokesman Chi Onwurah said: "Theresa May and Philip Hammond are happy to talk about industrial strategy but we've yet to see any actual strategy from them. British business is beginning to wonder if they really get it.

"The jobs of the future depend on Government enabling British manufacturing to lead the world in delivering the high-skills, high-wage, high-productivity economy that 4IR could help bring about, but the Tories appear stuck in a low-skill, low-wage, low-productivity race to the bottom."

Chi Onwurah, shadow minister for industrial strategy, science and innovation, said: "Yet again the Government is shown to be lagging behind our businesses and the real world.

"Theresa May and Philip Hammond are happy to talk about industrial strategy but we've yet to see any actual strategy from them. British business is beginning to wonder if they really get it."

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