Technological advancements will bring about the need for new skills

According to UK shipbuilding skills taskforce (UKSST)’s report, the shipbuilding workforce must be equipped with the skills needed to navigate technological advancements, drive innovation, and adapt to changing industry demands.

Specifically, UKSST launched a report report is titled A step change in UK shipbuilding skills as well as a supporting toolkit for shipbuilding employers on How to leverage UK skills systems. According to the report, a new approach will be needed to support career-long reskilling across the shipbuilding sector as the industry adopts new technologies at an increasing pace.

The taskforce was launched in July 2022 and will conclude in December 2023. It has spent this period working across government and with the shipbuilding industry to:

  • Identify the skills needed and provide solutions to skills shortages, particularly those related to new and emerging technologies
  • Ensure that shipbuilders and the supply chain in all parts of the UK can access the skills they need
  • Use the existing skills system so training providers can train the future workforce
  • Draw on best practice from other sectors and national skills approaches to optimise skills funding and opportunities for shipbuilding
  • Promote training funding and career opportunities in the shipbuilding sector

UKSST identified that demand for skills in advanced manufacturing, data analysis, digital twins, communications, energy generation, green shipping, alternative fuels, virtual reality, robotics, artificial intelligence, and quantum technologies is likely to increase as these technologies are more widely adopted by shipbuilding and as new technologies emerge over the coming years.

This will drive shifts in skills needs in shipyards of all sizes and across the supply chain, which will herald a need for greater flexibility across the whole workforce, such as:

  • Digital and technological literacy: As the industry embraces digitalisation, automation, and advanced manufacturing technologies,
    the shipbuilding workforce will need to have a strong foundation in digital literacy and be familiar with technologies such as computer-aided design (CAD), robotics, additive manufacturing (3D printing), and data analytics. Proficiency in using and adapting to evolving software and tools will be crucial.
  • Soft skills and adaptability: In a rapidly evolving industry, shipbuilders will need to demonstrate adaptability, problem-solving abilities, and a willingness to learn and upgrade their skills. Effective communication, project management, and leadership skills will also be increasingly needed to coordinate complex shipbuilding projects.