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Principles for digitalisation target workforce benefits

Professor Juergen Maier

Guidelines designed to help companies and workforces benefit from the drive towards new digital technologies in manufacturing have been released under the Made Smarter collaboration between Government, industry and trade unions.

The six new Guiding Principles for Digitalisation aim to ensure these technologies can be taken up in a way that is not disruptive but produces improved productivity, employment opportunities and increased sustainability.

This comes amid efforts to establish the UK as a global leader in the creation, adoption and export of advanced digital technologies, to achieve faster, more responsive and more efficient processes at a reduced cost.

Made Smarter is asking companies to commit themselves to the principles and extend the relationship to their supply chains. The six Guiding Principles for Digitalisation are as follows:

1. Partnership at Work

Employers will share plans for and address any issues arising from the introduction of digital technology through co-operation, consultation and mutual agreement with the workforce.

2. Health, safety, welfare and environment

Companies will assess any potential impact on health, safety and sustainability arising from the use of digital technology and conduct appropriate training to mitigate any associated risks and to make the most of opportunities for improvement.

3. Developing digital skills for the future

Employers and employees have shared ownership of skills development. This should be supported through organisational and personal development plans. Companies will ensure that people have access to the training they need.

4. Respect at work

Job satisfaction, rather than job intensity, will lead to improved productivity. The sharing of data and trust in its use is critical. Companies should consider developing codes of conduct on data use, including within supply chains.

5. Job Security and enhancement

Growth generated by digital technology should be reinvested, where possible, into areas that provide more opportunities and better jobs within the organisation. This will require open and creative ways to generate ideas for new products and areas for investment.

6. Equalities, diversity and inclusion

Equality impact assessments should be included within any organisation’s plans for digitalisation.

Chair of the Made Smarter Commission and Siemens UK chief executive Professor Juergen Maier said: “To make a success of the fourth industrial revolution, it needs to be truly inclusive. That means strong partnerships when it comes to digitalisation, technology deployment and upskilling and the Made Smarter work is totally committed to that.

“We’ve long said we need a workforce ready for technology disruption and a million existing workers need new digital skills. This partnership between the government, industry and the TUC is the first step in delivering this.”