The fourth industrial revolution is here. The coming together of robotics, automation, AI and digital technologies offers unprecedented opportunity for all industry and commercial sectors.
These game-changing technologies present challenges too. In the UK, up to 30% of jobs could be impacted by automation by the 2030s. In the North West region, up to 20% of all jobs are in the manufacturing industry and need to exploit robotics and automation to remain competitive.
However, despite a common public perception, robotics and automation have the potential to create a huge number of new, highly paid jobs. If we prepare for these challenges by developing employees with the appropriate robotics and artificial intelligence skills, and by investing in advanced robotics facilities, our industries and businesses will become much more competitive on the world stage. Our competitors are doing just this - and time is short for us to catch up and take a lead.
Enabling change and innovation for the manufacturing sector
To improve innovation, productivity and competitiveness globally, companies in Northern Ireland need support with the digital technology agenda.
Ulster University’s Centre for Industrial Digitalisation, Robotics and Automation will be an advanced support facility for local and international industry.
Home to highly specialist robotics equipment and an ideas factory for R&D for new enterprises, this factory of the future will assist companies develop in the expertise needed to compete in the 4th industrial revolution and inspire a new generation of digitally skilled experts.
A state-of-the-art facility, the Centre for Industrial Digitalisation, Robotics and Automation will be a dedicated demonstration space for robotics, automation and AI, and an experimentation and skills development industry hub.
Up-skilling a future-facing workforce
Embracing digital technologies presents big challenges for the future of how we work. It is by adopting and exploiting digital technologies that we will protect existing jobs and develop new employment opportunities. Focussing on innovation and developing competitiveness when it is more pertinent than ever post COVID-19, the Centre will partner with local businesses to build capability and capacity in their workforce. It will also play a key role in attracting new industry partners to locate in the region.
Position: Professor of Intelligent Systems, School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems