The UK must close an emerging skills gaps in the ‘smart transport’ sector, or risk falling behind for decades in a global race, transport technology experts have warned.
Transport Systems Catapult (TSC), the UK’s innovation centre for intelligent mobility, said an estimated £50bn a year in GDP could be lost If no action is taken across the entire skills pipeline.
A TSC driverless pod in Milton Keynes
It has published an Intelligent Mobility Skills Strategy, which it describes as ‘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’.
TSC said the global sector is forecast to grow to £900bn per annum by 2025 but that the UK faces a potential skills gap of 742,000 people by that date.
CEO Steve Yianni said: ‘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.’
Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South, 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.’
The strategy argues that to address the shortfall in intelligent mobility skills, ‘a portfolio of traditional and disruptive interventions is required, from early education to post graduate training, while supporting transfers and skills growth from across other sectors’.