Industry 4.0 Net zero

Est. reading time: 4 minutes
Author: Will Harris

92% of manufacturers believe net zero will be achievable for their business by 2050. To make this reality, the government and industry need to put strategies in place that map out how they are going to unlock the skills needed for the green revolution. Make UK and Sage recently teamed up to release a report that investigates the subject and makes some recommendations for success.

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Will Harris

Sales and Marketing professional


The manufacturing industry is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the UK, making up 13% of emissions. Fortunately, many in the industry are trying to change that. A lot of companies now have net zero plans and even more are taking measures to make their operations more sustainable.

The transition to net zero won’t be an easy one; industry will have to undergo major changes just as it already is, amidst the fourth industrial revolution. Fortunately, the two go hand in hand, and the transition to digital can be the ideal place to start being more sustainable

One area that many manufacturers are understandably concerned about is having the necessary skills to support the transition. Only two thirds (62%) of manufacturers feel they are equipped with the skills they currently need to operate more sustainably. Make UK recently collaborated with Sage to release Unlocking the skills needed for a digital and green future to support manufacturers in this vital area.

The report aims to set out which green skills the industry will need, what progress is being made and any potential barriers to success. Here, I bring you the main insights and takeaways. 

Green skills principles

The crux of the report is four guiding principles that aim to give organisations a framework for dealing with green skills going forward. These are:

  1. Commit to both understanding and equipping our business with the green skills needed to complete our transition to a digital and green future 
  2. Identify the areas of our business in which green skills are needed, now and in the future 
  3. Engage with the education system and training market to meet the green skills required for my business  
  4. Recognise that a green future goes hand in hand with a digital future 

Upskilling for the green revolution

The research found that greater awareness contributes to the development of green skills. As a result of this, 77% of UK manufacturers now say they intend to set net zero targets in the next two years while 61% are looking to change their skills strategy to suit the green revolution. 

Innovation and management are the most in demand skills according to employers. Strong leadership and innovation are naturally vital to a successful green transition. 

The report goes on to claim that these three green skills will see the biggest growth in demand: 

  1. Resource efficiency, e.g., carbon accounting, lean manufacturing  
  2. Low-carbon economy, e.g., nuclear and renewable energy generation, carbon emission minimisation 
  3. Development of new or amended products, e.g., design and production of electric vehicles

Current progress

The report found that many businesses are already investing in upskilling their staff. 70% of organisations have provided their employees with digital training in the last year. An astounding 91% of manufacturers say they have benefitted from adopting new digital technologies during the pandemic. This is brilliant as adopting digital technologies can cut your costs and help you on your way to net zero

The Green Jobs Taskforce has estimated that over 1.2 million new green jobs could be created within the manufacturing and construction sectors by 2050. They also announced that beyond this, every UK job has the potential to be green - including those within the entire manufacturing sector. 

Barriers to success

Less than half of manufacturers feel that the current education and skills market is prepared to deliver the skills they need. This likely means the government will need to transform the education and training market to some extent, to match the demand for the required skills and qualifications. 

Another issue found by the report is the existing skills gap in the manufacturing sector. There is a limited supply of STEM graduates which is worsened by pipeline problems at A level and poor immigration rules for foreign graduates.  

Next steps

The need for more green skills is very real and it’s worth paying attention to even if it hasn’t yet affected your organisation. Make UK and Sage’s four Green Principles can form a basic overview of how you need to approach these skills. Taking this on board, over time you can develop your own strategy based on these principles and unlock the full potential of green skills in your organisation. 

The report is an interesting read. It’s full of insightful statistics and goes into a lot more depth than you’ll find here. If you want to check it out you can find it in the further reading section below. If you’d like to learn more about going digital or how AI can help you become more sustainable, head over to our blog or get in touch.

Further reading

Unlocking the Skills Needed for a Digital and Green Future | Make UK

Unlocking the Skills for a Digital and Green Future PDF | Make UK & Sage

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