Despite the highly publicised IT skills shortage we are currently experiencing, that doesn’t mean the demand isn’t there, particularly when it comes to roles within AI and automation – after all, we can’t let the machines have all the fun. Here, Neil Ballinger, head of EMEA at EU Automation, examines the UK’s top-three emerging jobs and what these trends mean for manufacturers.
Despite the financial instability that characterised the first half of 2020, the demand for professionals in the field of data management and artificial intelligence (AI) is steadily on the rise.
This is what emerges from LinkedIn’s 2020 UK Emerging Jobs Report, which revealed that companies are on the lookout for individuals that have a strong technical background, but also outstanding problem-solving skills.
According to a recent survey, the shortage of STEM skills is costing UK companies £1.5 billion a year. As a consequence, it is not surprising that LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report for the UK shows that candidates with a solid technical expertise are extremely sought after.
In manufacturing, this means recruiting candidates with a strong STEM background, and those who can understand the concerns of manufacturers and solve concrete business problems, such as improving product quality or saving on equipment maintenance. So, what are these profiles?
Artificial intelligence specialist
According to McKinsey, AI could deliver a 22% boost to the UK’s economy by 2030. In manufacturing, AI is transforming high-value operations, allowing industry-players to base their decisions on evidence provided by big data. As a consequence, at the top of LinkedIn’s report we find candidates with strong knowledge of machine learning, computer vision, Python and neural networks.
These skills are essential to develop AI-based technologies that respond to critical needs of any manufacturing business, such as advanced systems for quality assurance, solutions for remote condition monitoring, and software for demand prediction.
Data protection officer (DPO)
Following the impact of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the UK Data Protection Act of 2018, DPOs have become essential figures in a variety of industries. DPOs make sure that the handling of personal or sensitive data complies with data protection regulations, but also that data are processed and stored safely, minimising the risk of information theft.
In manufacturing, one of the main tasks of a DPO is to make sure that sensitive information, such as customer details or information protected by a non-disclosure agreement, doesn’t fall into the hands of hackers.
This can occur, for example, when data from IoT-devices is transferred to the cloud. To prevent this from happening, a DPO might decide to process data at the edge when possible, or to develop a hybrid cloud-edge strategy.
The latest World Robotics report by the International Federation of Robotics shows an annual global sales value of 16.6 billion USD in 2018, with 422,000 units sold globally, a record in the sector. These figures prove that manufacturers have realised the potential of robots to drastically improve operations.
Despite the uptake of robotic automation, companies still need experts that can effectively programme and train industrial robots. LinkedIn’s report stresses the demand for engineers with knowledge of code and software like those developed by UiPath, which help manufacturers automate repetitive tasks.
The trends unveiled by LinkedIn’s report signal that companies in every sector are striving to innovate by combining the potential of AI-based solutions with insight from big data to increase efficiency, improve quality and reduce costs. Companies that don’t keep up with the times face the risk of being outcompeted.
Manufacturers should consider recruiting for people who can turn their technical expertise into solutions that can be implemented at a shop floor level. At the same time, manufacturers might want to invest in cost-effective solutions that can get them started into their journey to Industry 4.0.