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UK must invest in skills for emerging transport technology


The UK must close emerging skills gaps in the transport sector, or risk relegating itself to the back of the pack for decades in a global transport technology race – according to a new report. If no action is taken across the entire skills pipeline, an estimated £50 billion in GDP per annum could be lost.

The report is a call to action for government, academia and industry to invest in a skills strategy that enables the UK to achieve global industry leadership in the rapidly growing field of ‘Intelligent Mobility’ which is forecast to grow to £900 billion per annum by 2025.

New technology such as self-driving vehicles and changing business models (such as the sharing economy), coupled with growing digital capabilities, will herald a new age in transport. This new landscape offers enormous export, productivity improvement and job opportunities for those who have the right skills to prosper.

However, while a technology transformation is taking place, the labour market needs to be enhanced with new skills if it is to lead to new jobs and economic growth for Great Britain.

TSC CEO Steve Yianni commented:

“Previous investment in skills development and innovation in our leading aerospace or automotive sectors has helped produce world beating industries. However, we now stand on the brink of a transport revolution driven by a new generation of technology.

This digital revolution is fundamentally changing the labour market. Rapid improvements in autonomous systems and artificial intelligence are enabling the automation of a broader range of non-routine manual tasks. With improved sensing technology being developed in the field of robotics, jobs in transportation and logistics could become fully automatable. However, there are also enormous opportunities to create new, highly skilled jobs within the industry as we develop these new products and services.”

TSC Skills Programme director Yolande Herbath added:

“None of our international competitors are being complacent. American federal investment is doubling to help bring these technologies to the commercial market and we are seeing initiatives in places like Germany to prepare economies for this change.

Today we have a unique opportunity to develop a labour force capable of competing in an emerging £900bn global transport technology economy. But if we don’t act, we risk relegating ourselves to the back of the pack for decades.”

MP for Milton Keynes South Iain Stewart said:

“The TSC’s Intelligent Mobility Skills Strategy provides a timely insight into the future of a transport labour market transformed by the rapid development and deployment of new technologies. The UK must now seize the moment to secure a pivotal role in this transformation – by future proofing our work force to ensure we continue to be global leaders in the field of transport.”

Key findings in the Intelligent Mobility Skills Strategy:

• The UK faces a potential skills gap of 742,000 people by 2025.

• ‘Disruptive’ high value digital skills are in short supply.

• Transport industry experts strongly prefer higher degree apprenticeships.

• The potential lost opportunity cost to UK GDP is £50 billion per annum.

• An integrated range of interventions is needed to address the skills shortfall. The industry and research participants agreed that no single intervention will address the shortfall in IM skills.

• Proactive efforts need to be made to attract women to the industry.

• The UK can adopt rapid, novel, low cost international interventions.