The Science|Business’ “Digital skills for industry” group brought together a unique group of stakeholders from industry, academia and policy. The group met twice, in January and June, in the course of 2020. This report is the summary of the discussions held during the events
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The speed at which digital technologies are advancing is putting the world’s workers under considerable pressure. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, the industrial Internet of Things, autonomous systems, digital manufacturing and distributed ledgers are among the new technologies that are fast changing the way
in which people do their jobs.
As with all previous waves of technological change, the ability of companies and organisations to adopt and exploit digital innovations crucially depends on a very human factor, namely the technological literacy and savvy of the workforce, as well as the business opportunities and investments made. Employees on the shop-floor need to get used to working alongside cobots (collaborative robots) and other digitally enhanced tools; engineers need to be aware of new options for product design and performance that come with digital technologies; those working in supply chain management, strategic marketing or service delivery need to be cognisant of how digitisation will alter or even revolutionise the way they can succeed in their business functions. There’s no rank or role that can afford to remain unskilled in digital technologies, if companies want to thrive in the future. Against this backdrop, Science|Business has convened experts from the public and private sector to discuss two key questions. First: What skills will be required and what are the implications for academic training programmes? And second, how can the existing workforce learn new skills and engage in lifelong learning? The outcome of these meetings in 2019 and 2020 are summarised in this paper.