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From Survey to Strategy: Understanding Skills Trends in Advanced Manufacturing

Based on data collected from CECIMO’s survey in November 2023, encompassing responses from 44% large companies, 31% medium-sized enterprises, 16% small companies, and 9% micro-enterprises, the report aims to provide insights into the evolving landscape of skill demands and emerging professional profiles. The report explores in-demand technical skills shortages sought-after professional profiles, emphasizing the labour and skills shortages, departments experiencing skills shortages, and recruitment challenges. 

The objective of this report is to establish an updated skill database, serving as a valuable resource for industrial stakeholders, educational institutions, and policymakers. This database aims to monitor the dynamic nature of skill demands, address skill mismatches, facilitate the alignment of educational curricula with market needs, and attract a diverse workforce to the manufacturing sector, particularly the younger generation and women. 

Key findings on Digital Skills

The survey reveals that almost 55% of enterprises recognise the significance of Automation Control Systems in automating manufacturing processes, while approximately 48% affirm the importance of Data Analytics and Visualisation skills. This highlights a growing awareness of the value of datadriven decision-making and the visualisation of complex datasets in optimising manufacturing processes. In addition, 45% of industries acknowledge the necessity of a
diverse set of expertise, including Robotics Operations, Programming, Integration and Maintenance, Troubleshooting and Collaborative Robotics (Cobots), Machine Learning skills and AI management.

More than one-third (35.5%) of companies place significant importance on skills in Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) Software, which underscores the integral role of design and manufacturing software in shaping contemporary production processes. Likewise, a notable 32% of businesses prioritise digital skills in Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor Integration, coupled with Cybersecurity awareness, reflecting the industry’s proactive stance towards mitigating cyber threats. Concurrently, 29% of companies emphasise the importance of 3D Modelling and Simulation, along with Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Programming, signifying the increasing relevance of these skills in optimising manufacturing processes. 

Digital Twin Modelling skills are cited by almost 26% of companies, demonstrating a growing interest in leveraging digital representation for manufacturing enhancement. However, skills in Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are not considered a significant priority for advanced manufacturing companies, suggesting that, at present, these technologies may not be perceived as essential components of the skill set required for digital transformation. 

In general, around 65% of companies perceive skills shortages as an obstacle to the adoption of digital technology, while only 32.3% do not view it as a barrier.

Key findings on Digital Jobs

A substantial majority, 58% of industries, identifies Automation and Mechatronic Systems Technicians as fundamental for installing, maintaining, and repairing automated machinery and robotic systems, thereby minimising downtime in manufacturing. Additionally, around 48% of companies, emphasises the importance of Robotics Specialists/Human-Robot Interaction Operators, responsible programming, monitoring performance and operating robotic systems, along with security
and Cybersecurity Specialists, IoT Specialists and Security Analysts, who are tasked to protect digital systems and manage security measures against cyber threats.

Another significant percentage, 45% of enterprises, views Data Engineers and Analysts as crucial for managing and analysing data to optimise processes and enhance decision making. Similarly, almost 42% of industries regard AI and Machine Learning Specialists as significant roles for implementing AI algorithms and machine learning models to enhance automation, decision-making, and predictive capabilities.

A smaller percentage, 29% of companies, considers Analytics Developers important for optimising informed decision-making. Roughly 26% believe in the growing significance of Smart Factory Managers, Web Security Experts and Operational Technology Performers, overseeing the integration of intelligent technologies, safeguarding digital assets, and maintaining operational technology systems for smooth industrial processes. CAD and CAM Engineers/Designers are highlighted by just over one-fifth (22.6%) of businesses for designing and optimising components and processes in manufacturing, with a lesser percentage for Digital Twin Analysts and AR/VR Integration Specialists