Robots ‘will create UK jobs, not destroy them’

Jamie Nimmo
Monday 30 November 2015 01:35 GMT
A German drum-playing robot: investing in robotics would pay off for Britain, says a report from Barclays
A German drum-playing robot: investing in robotics would pay off for Britain, says a report from Barclays (EPA)

Investing in robots would create more, not fewer, jobs for the UK’s embattled manufacturing industry, according to research from Barclays.

Its Future-proofing UK Manufacturing report says an extra £1.2bn of investment in robots could boost the economy by as much as £60.5bn over the next decade. That would help the manufacturing sector to grow by £38bn to £191bn by 2025, and would safeguard more than 100,000 jobs, not just in manufacturing, Barclays argues.

The increased investment would help to mitigate the expected decline in manufacturing jobs by creating 73,500 more by 2025.

There are concerns that increasing automation in factories will lead to more manual labour job cuts, but the report suggests it will have the opposite effect.

The aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce has slashed thousands of jobs over the past year to deal with the downturn, along with other major engineering firms.

Mike Rigby, head of manufacturing at Barclays, said: “This report highlights the importance of investing in robotics and automation for manufacturers as a potential solution to the ongoing ‘productivity puzzle’.

“By investing an additional £1.2bn in automation technologies over the next decade, the UK manufacturing sector is forecast to create an additional £60.5bn of economic output and safeguard more than 105,800 jobs throughout the wider economy.

“However, to reap these rewards we need to address some of the barriers to investment, including the need for more user-friendly and flexible technology, addressing skills barriers within the sector, and supporting manufacturers to access the funding and information already available to them for robotics investment.”

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