APAC Issue 7 2018

28 APAC / Issue 7 2018 , With over half the industry’s workforce aged over 35, and a third aged over 40, businesses in manufacturing, lumber, distribution and retail are facing a dangerous skills gap on their factory floors, if they fail to recruit new talent before too long. This is one of the findings of the latest research[i] from Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth. Only a quarter (23%) of businesses agreed they find it easy to attract the right talent, with the right industry knowledge, suggesting they might soon hit crisis point. Only a Quarter of Businesses Currently able to Attract Recruits with the Right Knowledge, Finds Epicor ModernERP, robo-workers, automation, andAI could plug emerging industry skills gap andhelp businesses get fit for digital transformation The young talent problem Despite recent technology developments—including advancements in AI, IoT and robotics—business leaders attribute the emerging skills and knowledge gap to the fact that there’s a perception these industries are behind the times. Many businesses in manufacturing, lumber, distribution and retail believe they are perceived as being old- fashioned (23%), and a quarter agree they are not seen as working within a ‘young person’s industry’ (25%). At the same time, 32 percent think young people lack the right skills/ experience to work in industry. One-in-five (22%) believes that the education system simply isn’t doing them any favours primarily because it’s not preparing or encouraging young people into manufacturing. Robots to build efficiencies into the workforce Implementing new technologies and ways of working could be the answer to both provide the industry with the skills or knowledge needed, while encouraging more young talent to consider roles in manufacturing, lumber, distribution and retail. For example, 41 percent of businesses are implementing some form of robot technology, because they can automate mundane work (54%), free up people to work on more creative tasks (40%), and can optimise processes faster and more effectively than humans (34%). Many employees are aware of the benefits of automation, because they already have first-hand experience of robot workmates. A third (31%) says AI, robots, and highly automated machinery, are now a common feature of their day-to-day work, and only 32 percent says they are not part of their workforce at all. Those that work in finance, and those that work in the Asia- Pacific (APAC) region may be more up for working with robot co-workers than anyone else—47 percent of respondents in APAC agree robots are more efficient than humans (compared to 29% in Europe and Middle East) and 33 percent of those