Is the UK falling behind in developing automation and robotics?

The First Industrial Revolution was led by the UK in 1760 and yet there are serious concerns that the UK is falling behind other countries. This was the conclusion to a report conducted by the House of Commons Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Committee (BEIS) which was published on 9 September 2019.

The report has suggested that a failure to invest and develop in automation and robots will mean that productivity will fall, fewer investments will be made and people and businesses will move to other countries who have invested in the future.

The main reason why BEIS arrive at this conclusion is because their research showed that the Government and business are hesitant to pave the way into the Fourth Revolution. This is because there is a fear that ‘robots will take our jobs’. However, BEIS’s report has concluded the opposite because if the UK does not take the initiative other countries will. Therefore, they will be able to take advantage of the new technologies which will result in growth and new employment opportunities.

BEIS’s message is that the UK needs to think about the future of manufacturing. Robotics and automation offer higher levels of productivity, which will ultimately lead to higher production and more jobs in the UK.

BEIS believe that the UK Government should do more work with UK businesses that are developing automation and robotics. This is so they can share this information with other businesses that are more hesitant in investing in automation and robotics. But the main problem with this is that businesses are looking for something that will make them stand out, and if automation gives them this edge, they won’t be willing to tell other businesses about this. Why would they?

In the past there have been concerns that the fast development in automation would affect employment and an income tax charge was suggested for businesses that use robots as the robot had more than likely taken someone’s job. But BEIS says that this would be completely illogical as there is currently low development in automation and taking this measure would only reduce it. They believe that the Government should actually introduce a tax incentive for investing in automation and robotics to encourage investment instead of driving it away.

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