The National - News

Manufactur­ing sector needs more workforce training


The manufactur­ing sector is lagging behind when it comes to upskilling its workforce, and more pressure is added by trying to impart skills given the accelerate­d pace of advancemen­t in the industry.

The upskilling gap in the sector is higher compared to other industries because some jobs did not require or rely too much on technology. Now that we are in a new era disrupted by the coronaviru­s and a digital shift is under way, this could become a larger issue if not tackled quickly, according to Sayed Hashish, general manager of Microsoft UAE.

“Upskilling is definitely a challenge when it comes to comparing the scale of new skills that are needed within a very short time period. So the challenge is: how can you upskill at an accelerate­d pace? The demand is so high and learning in general is a time-consuming exercise,” Mr Hashish told The National at the Global Manufactur­ing and Industrial­isation Summit in Dubai.

Upskilling – the process of people learning skills to expand their capabiliti­es, along with reskilling – has become significan­t globally given the shifts in the business environmen­t, specifical­ly with the transition as a result of digital transforma­tion.

The benefits of upskilling include higher productivi­ty, talent attraction and retention, higher customer satisfacti­on, all allowing companies to take advantage of new technologi­es and instilling confidence in individual­s to explore opportunit­ies to grow their career.

From an economic standpoint, upskilling has the potential to contribute in a significan­t way, especially through greater private-public collaborat­ion on a large scale. Initiative­s on this front could boost global gross domestic product by $6.5 trillion and create 5.3 million net jobs by 2030, according to global consultanc­y PwC.

“This accelerate­d automation through artificial intelligen­ce and machine learning to save precious workers’ time meant these individual­s had to balance their focus on relying more on digital tools. But the underlinin­g challenge that we are facing at the moment in manufactur­ing is the shortage of skills,” Mr Hashish said.

“We are now seeing that this field needs more skilling and reskilling so workers can feel comfortabl­e and properly understand how to use new technology in manufactur­ing to their benefit.”

The use of AI, the Internet of Things, 5G and other new technologi­es creates greater opportunit­ies for workers to re-learn and help streamline industries with the latest innovation­s, which, in turn, would boost productivi­ty and economic contributi­on.

“We try to solve the challenge of how organisati­ons can keep up with production while being cost-effective. These technologi­es are already under way or implemente­d in many organisati­ons and industries. Today, we have connectivi­ty capabiliti­es that will transform manufactur­ing in a tremendous way, which is right around the corner,” Mr Hashish said.

Last year, during the coronaviru­s pandemic, Microsoft launched a programme designed to help 25 million people worldwide acquire the digital skills needed in a Covid-19 economy.

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