A new study by a specialist contractor recruitment consultancy has suggested that flexible professionals will play a pivotal role in enabling businesses to implement “the fourth industrial revolution:” Industry 4.0 (4IR).

4IR has captured the headlines over the last few years, as growing numbers of enterprises scramble to adopt revolutionary new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation, robotics and the remote monitoring of production – an innovation that promises to hugely increase efficiency.

And yet, research from the University of Warwick recently showed that many companies are failing to make use of the potentially astounding potential of 4IR. The study’s authors attributed this to three factors: an insufficiently integrated supply chain, a scarcity of products within businesses that lend themselves to customisation and, significantly, a serious lack of the necessary advanced skills within the company.

To fully comprehend each of the elements needed in the application of 4IR, specialists with advanced knowledge are required. These are individuals who, through years of study and experience, have become highly proficient in system integration and are equipped not only with comprehensive knowledge of robotics and automation but often have a proven background in implementation.

Since the UK has a stubborn shortage of these high-end skills, businesses face a substantial challenge in finding and appointing these high-value experts to help them navigate the technological complexity of properly implementing 4IR. A new study by specialist recruiter Jonathan Lee Contract Recruitment suggests that the solution lies in a more versatile and agile approach to recruitment.

New research from the consultancy has found a growing preference among some employers to eschew permanent, full-time roles in favour of contracting on a project-by-project basis. Significantly, this was especially true among highly-skilled individuals who had acquired broad experience and deep specialist knowledge in their chosen fields.

Writing in Recruitment International, Jonathan Lee’s head of recruitment operations, Jon Blaze, acknowledges that one of the most limiting obstacles in the path of properly implementing 4IR is the continuing shortage of skilled workers. But he also points to a solution: by tapping the expertise of high-end contracting professionals, companies have a means of bridging this talent gap.

These flexible professionals can assist enterprises to adjust their operations to new markets, help steer the strategic direction of businesses and transfer their capabilities and knowledge to the current workforce.

He adds:

“For businesses investing in 4IR processes and technologies, the use of contractors affords them flexibility to take on specialists, providing expert guidance and advice throughout the implementation stages. This can not only help futureproof a business, but also negate the need to hire permanent staff for shorter term projects within the 12 to 18 month timeframe.”

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