Watch the webinar
- Naomi Weir (Programme Director – Innovation, CBI)
- Andy Meads (Head of Analytical Development & Insight, UK Greetings)
- Paul Durkin (Chief Customer and Innovation Officer, Wincanton)
- James Milligan (Global Head of Technology, Hays)
- Ceri Thomas, Editor and Partner, Tortoise Media (Chair)
In this session:
- CBI made first big intervention of 2022 last when Tony sat down with Robert Colvile sat down to talk about going for growth ahead of the Budget next month. You can watch the speech in full here. Look out for more from the CBI on this in the coming weeks.
- Levelling up: lots of positive developments in the new white paper but further clarity if needed on the role of private sector in delivery.
- Automation and AI in businesses looks like: automatic vehicles in warehouses, adopting AI solutions for backroom tasks e.g., HR data or reducing reliance on physical labour.
- New impetus for this discussion given the labour shortages circumstances.
- Important for prospective employees too – can contribute to job satisfaction, productivity problems as well as attracting retaining talent.
- Start with the business needs and problem – not the technology otherwise you can become overwhelmed.
- Partial AI adopters don’t tend to see profit dividends, needs to be strategic and thought through.
- You also need to give people time to understand and implement the technologies – people will ask “what does this mean for my job?”
- Tap into your network, talk to others in your industry and help others to do the same.
Andy Meads – UK Greetings
- Looked to increase data analytics and automation capabilities to be more efficient.
- Struggled to the find the right skills and so invested heavily in retraining staff and via investment in Apprenticeship routes.
- Felt the retention of staff was valuable not only from a cost saving perspective, but also historic knowledge of how the company operates.
- Made sure to leverage as many free online resources as possible, (YouTube has been a useful tool).
- Also engaged with suppliers to understand what free training was available with the tech solutions they were purchasing.
Paul Durkin – Wincanton
- Wincanton operated within a ‘people-focused’ industry, and the market pre-covid was getting tighter and we were working hard to make the industry a more attractive place to work.
- Where Wincanton is now: having got through last 2 years – we’re accelerating a lot of our original plans on how we use technology with people. We’ve made clear it’s not an either / or but a partnership.
- For example, deploying robotic cleaners, and automating the less attractive areas of certain jobs within their workforce.
- Are shortages easing? There has been a slight easing from demand / supply perspective. January and February usually are less intense.
- They are using this time to work out how to attract and retain more people in the industry in the short and longer term.
- Key points to emphasise they see ‘person’ and ‘machine’ working in tandem. For example, robots they deployed last year eased physical pushing of trolleys away from the person, so they had more time to focus on fulfilling orders and other tasks.
James – Hays
- Technology is the key area across STEM skills needs. Skills shortage prior to the pandemic, but now exacerbated.
- There’s huge demand for talent across construction, life sciences and marketing – however employers are struggling to find the talent they need, even globally.
- Since Brexit, employers are more flexible with looking at talent within the country. Can look for talent anywhere in the country with hybrid working. Across borders there’s still challenges there – some employers are hiring anyone within a 3-hour time zone.
- Will this persist? I think we’ll create more talent, but demand will increase over the next 5 years. Incumbent on biz, government, and education for initiatives to close the gap.
- Employers are being more flexible in terms of the criteria for roles – no longer looking for 5+ years etc.
- Hays themselves: have looked internally at how we can automate some of the repetitive, monotonous tasks and invested a lot in this. Internal learning programme to access new skills e.g., softskills and technical and self-learn.
- Investing in a new platform for employees to track their own personal development and prepare for failure.