Digital Transformation

4 ways to future-proof your manufacturing organisation

How manufacturing companies can overcome the digital skills gap and remain competitive in the digital age by investing in talent.


Technology continues to evolve before our eyes and digital transformation is climbing up the agenda for many organisations. The demand for digital skills in the manufacturing industry is increasing, but the pool of talent is shrinking.As the growing digital skills gap continues to loom, organisations’ ability to adopt new and efficient technologies and to remain competitive are being hindered

According to a recent study by Make UK, a manufacturing trade body, 36% of manufacturing vacancies in the UK are hard to fill due to a lack of required skills.

There are multiple factors contributing to the digital skills gap in manufacturing – one being the aging workforce. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average age of a manufacturing worker in the UK is 48.8 years old. It’s time to attract young talent and show them the ropes of the ever-growing industry.

This leads to another core factor of disruption – the heightened use of digital technologies. As the industry becomes more automated and digitised, acquiring new talent or upskilling staff in areas such as data analytics, programming, software engineering, automation and robotics (just to name a few) is a no-brainer. Succeeding in the digital age is key, and the way to do this is to invest in training: recruiting and upskilling talent. Sounds simple, right?

The Goal

Let’s dig a little deeper into how you can address the digital skills gap within your own organisation. The goal is to ensure that you have a workforce with the skills necessary to adopt new technologies and compete in the global manufacturing market. This entails a concerted effort from both the organisation and educational institution.

The Solution

To help guide you towards the end of the skills gap tunnel, we’ve got some suggestions on how you can remain disruptive, competitive and digital-first:

1. Invest in what you have

Talent gaps don’t always lead to hiring new employees – why not start with what you have? Upskilling is typically less costly than hiring. The average cost of appointing a new employee in the UK is £3,000 – whilst the average cost to upskill a current employee is £1,500.

Aside from the financial impact, upskilling your current workforce can also promote increased productivity, employee morale and innovation. How to tackle this? On-the-job training, online courses, or in-person workshops.

2. Leave it to the experts

Educational organisations like QA can develop training programs that are tailored to your business goals and vision. By trusting industry experts such QA you can rest assured that the training will remain relevant to the needs of your organisation and the industry, and is delivered by experienced professionals.

3. Change the minds of young talent

The younger talent market is struggling to see the ‘pros’ of the manufacturing industry. How to solve this? Change the perception of manufacturing careers. Through marketing campaign activity, you can highlight the positive aspects of the career path, the opportunity to work on cutting-edge technology, to be a part of an ever-growing industry and of course, the attractive salaries.

4. Apprenticeships

But not the ‘traditional’ type of apprenticeship. Opt for a blended learning approach instead, allowing apprentices to work, earn and learn all at the same time and to add value to your organisation, faster. Apprenticeships can be offered to your existing workforce or used to hire fresh talent.

What’s next?

The digital skills gap is only getting wider, and it’s in your hands to bring it to a close. Invest in your workforce through upskilling or hiring new talent, partner with experienced educational institutions, and change the perception of careers within the manufacturing industry through disruptive campaigns.

And one last thing before you go, don’t forget to encourage a culture of learning and celebrate successes across your organisation. Continuous improvement and learning are key to long-term success.

By taking these steps collectively, the UK’s manufacturing industry will witness themselves on an upward trajectory in the digital age.

QA has extensive experience in helping manufacturing organisations upskill their current workforce and hiring superstar talent to beat the digital skills gap. Could you be next?

Get in touch today and see how we can help future proof your business.