Skills demand focus at NMIS Scotland

The Workforce Foresighting Hub were hosted at an exciting and vital event at the end of January, by the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) at their state-of-the-art facility near Glasgow. The event was developed with the aim of highlighting and collaborating over the future skills gaps faced by the Scottish and UK economies.

Posted on: 22/04/2024
Delegates from the Workforce Foresighting Hub event at the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland

The skills challenge

There is no way of getting away from it, the skills challenge we face is highly significant. If the UK is to exploit innovative technologies for the future, we must ensure a skilled workforce to develop, implement, manage and drive such technologies. Failure to address this challenge will result in us missing out on opportunities to increase productivity and take market leading positions.

This was a key point of discussion at the event, with findings presented that indicated the manufacturing sector requires agile skill sets as soon as possible to be able to cope with the speed of change in technological development. Developing a culture of reskilling and upskilling is essential and the event highlighted that we need to be prepared as that skills demand will continue to evolve over time.

Key statistics discussed suggest that action is required now, in order to be able to meet the demands set in place by the 2030 targets for net zero. In the offshore wind sector alone, the skills shortage is estimated to be 72,000 people required by 2030. Even more daunting is that these figures are replicated across other key sectors.

– Andrew Esson, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult

Success will need to be measured across the short, medium and longer-term, with Workforce Foresighting crucial at each stage, in order to get the industry to where it wants to be.

The benefit of foresighting

The Workforce Foresighting Hub (WF Hub) aims to provide a systemic approach to identifying the organisational capabilities and workforce skills necessary to ​enable industry to adopt and exploit innovative technologies. The WF Hub’s wider vision is to foster the organisational ​capabilities and workforce skills ​required to adapt to continuing ​change and enable adoption of ​innovative technologies to enable ​a more prosperous UK industry.

Key to the success of the WF Hub’s strategy is understanding industry challenges, identifying skills gaps through insight and collaboration and enabling a consistent approach to foresighting so that skills gaps can be addressed and managed in the future.

The key topics

One of the key parts of the informative and detailed presentation was a foresighting cycle case study focused on the technology challenges faced by the Inter-Array Dynamic Cable Systems in Floating Offshore Wind Farms. This was one of the first Workforce Foresight Hub cycles to take place and highlighted some key findings in its recently published report.

It focused on the specific requirement to solve and scale technical and supply chain challenges and to provide reliable and available inter-array power connections. The activation suggested to do this was by the establishment of the dynamic cable systems centre of excellence at the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult in Blyth. Although just one example, this shows the type of thinking and foresight needed to drive change.

The presentation by Andrew Esson, Future Skills Lead, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult continued on outlining the focus on the ‘Right Skills’, ‘Right Time’ and ‘Right Place’. But highlighted that nothing can be achieved alone, as well as the importance of collaboration, knowledge sharing and support.

​It also highlighted engagement as being vital to the success of any change and discussed how future Workforce Foresighting cycles can support key elements such as autonomous systems, recycling of key components and a wide variety of manufacturing outputs.

Other important information such as electrification, shipbuilding and predictive foresighting were discussed in detail and left participants with a greater sense of community in terms of the collective skills requirement.

Event insights

Undoubtedly the knowledge and experience in the room during the event created a real hub of innovation and insightful thinking. Delivering the next generation of workers and providing a clear onward career path can only be successfully achieved by following the established Skills Value Chain, which first determines need, then sets up resource with validation to deliver the training and development needed, to ultimately provide a national solution to the skills shortage.

Stuart McKinlay, Skills Director, NMIS Manufacturing Skills Academy, explained  the importance of being collaborative in order to be transformative. He also stressed the importance of diversity in gaining the richness of future workers.

Karen Green, Chief People & Skills Officer, High Value Manufacturing Catapult flagged the importance of strong data and the development of skills using AI. She stressed that the sector is currently in a lag and it’s about catching up, quickly.

What next?

We are encouraging everybody in the sector to get in touch and discover how to take part in a foresighting cycle. It’s vital to look ahead and accurately predict what is required from a future skills perspective so that we can work collaboratively with educators in order to drive change, challenge conventions and equip the next generation with the skills they need to succeed.

If we do that well, the benefits will be provided to the UK economy as a whole, and we’ll maintain our position as an innovator and leader. If we don’t act now, we risk losing momentum and falling behind other countries that have upskilled and invested.

Want to get involved?

We all have a part to play in addressing the future skills challenge, and we’re actively looking for people to take part in workforce foresighting cycles. Speak to the WF Hub Team to get involved in your own cycle today, or download our brochure to find out more.

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Workforce Foresighting

Workforce Foresighting

How do we build a skilled workforce for tomorrow’s industries? The Workforce Foresighting Hub has developed a structured process, aligned with national policy, to help deliver a workforce to exploit innovative technologies in the UK. We’re supporting industry, policymakers and educators to adapt to continuing change.


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