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Government, Industry and the Trade Unions have come together in an unprecedented way to launch a new set of Guiding Principles for Digitalisation to help companies and the workforce make the most of the increasing drive towards a new digital era for manufacturing.

The principles were launched following a meeting of the Commission with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy the Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP.
According to Made Smarter (1), by 2030 the UK will be the global leader in the creation, adoption and export of advanced digital technologies, shaping how the modern world does business. These new technologies will enable faster, more responsive and more efficient processes to deliver improved productivity and higher quality products at a reduced cost.

To help companies and workforces drive the take up of new technologies in a way that isn’t disruptive but produces good jobs (2) improved productivity and a clean footprint Made Smarter has designed six guiding principles which it is asking companies to commit to themselves, as well as extending the relationship to their supply chains.
The six Guiding Principles for Digitalisation are as follows:

1. Partnership at Work

A strong partnership is essential to any process of change. 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 including union representatives where they are present at the workplace. It is a shared ambition that digital technology delivers better jobs, on decent terms and conditions.

2. Health, safety, welfare and environment

Industrial Digitalisation presents opportunities to improve safety and environmental impact in the workplace, throughout the supply chain and across society. Companies will assess any potential impacts 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 a 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. Government and employees (or their union representatives) will be part of the partnership on retraining. Employees and unions, where they are present, will be engaged in developing and agreeing retraining plans.

4. Respect at work

All workers are entitled to high standards of treatment. 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, drawn up in consultation with the workforce and their representatives. Companies need to demonstrate that employee data is secure and that they are in compliance with regulations.

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. Individuals should see their roles enhanced as a consequence of digital technology. This will require open and creative ways to generate ideas for new products and/or areas for investment.

6. Equalities, diversity and inclusion

Digitalisation can support inclusivity but issues, including new ways of working and working time, job design, job evaluation, access to training, retraining and progression, can all have equality and diversity implications. Equality impact assessments should be included within any organisations’ plans for digitalisation.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: 

“Manufacturing plays a vital role in the UK economy and our manufacturers are leading the way in driving innovation, job creation and growth.

“Through the Made Smarter Commission the Government is working with industry to help manufacturers embrace digital technology and use it to further boost our competitiveness.

“These new Principles will help companies reap the benefits of this technology, leading to better quality, higher skilled and safer jobs.”

Professor Juergen Maier, Chair of the Made Smarter Commission and Siemens UK CEO, said: 

“To make a success of this 4th 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 1 million existing workers need new digital skills. This partnership between government, industry and the TUC is the first step in developing a detailed roadmap to deliver this”

News / Make UK / Digital technology