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Industry news roundup - May 2018

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At the end of each month on our website we’ll feature a roundup of the news that’s grabbed our attention from across our industry. We might not cover all of our sectors every month, but watch this space!

Exec/Leaders           

Business chiefs upbeat about economy, but headaches remain re seizing opportunities around automation and digital.

PwC reports that UK CEOs have become increasingly confident about our economic future. In its recent 21st CEO Survey, the professional services firm reports that 88% of participating CEOs anticipate growth for their own business in the next year. Concerns remain, however, about the global trading environment and the threat of cyber security.

With many CEOs concerned about the need to harness the power of automation and AI to increase productivity, 60% agree that HR functions need to be transformed to become fit for purpose in the digital age. This is echoed by concern about a lack of digital skills in current workforces and leadership teams, with 86% of CEOs preoccupied with modernising their working environment.

Motorsport

MotoGP set to go electric in 2019

As with four wheels, so with two: MotoGP has announced that it will launch an e-series that will share Grand Prix weekends with the traditional motorcycle race series. With four manufacturers committing to the series, it looks like around 18 bikes could compete in the first competition, which may begin next year. The electric bikes will be slower than their petrol-powered antecedents, but for how long? And how long before the traditional Grands Prix – for cars and bikes - are a thing of the past?

Automotive

Large-scale UK EV infrastructure imminent, starting on the South coast.

In his blog this month, Nick Gerrell gets in line behind Andy Palmer, The SMMT and many other automotive authorities to lament the mixed messages and consumer confusion that surrounds the slow transformation of passenger cars to EV from combustion propulsion.  But he also gives credit where it’s due, and highlights the government’s laudable aim to place the UK at the forefront of pollution reduction and clean tech. And right on time, we learn that Southampton is to pilot a new £1.6 billion scheme whereby the UK could launch the world’s largest battery and vehicle-charging network. New energy start-up Pivot Power plans to provide 50MW batteries and charging docks across 45 sites in the UK, powering public rapid charging stations as well as electric buses and fleets.

This could be the start of the very infrastructural development our latest blog alludes to, and it’s encouraging to see the UK at the forefront of this kind of large-scale development. The signs are positive for continued UK investment and job creation into both vehicle development and charging infrastructure.

Future Tech

Government says AI will revolutionise healthcare and save thousands of lives.

It seems the scope for usefully deploying ground-breaking technology is almost limitless, with Downing Street claiming that Artificial Intelligence could play a crucial role in the prevention of diseases. Theresa May has committed to revolutionising the NHS by using machine learning to scrutinise NHS and healthcare data in order to improve the early diagnosis of diseases in individuals.

By harnessing and understanding data gained from an analysis of habits, medical records and genetics, the government believes that over 50,000 people a year could be diagnosed at an early stage of cancer, with the combination of data and AI ultimately helping people to remain healthier for five years longer into their life.

It is thought that AI could prevent 22,000 cancer deaths annually by 2033, with the ability of AI to scan and analyse vast quantities of data representing a new frontier in preventing avoidable deaths. The technology required to do this exists, but the next stage is bringing it all together, and some sources have expressed concern about the dangers of data sharing - particularly pertinent this month.

Manufacturing & Tech

STEM applicants prevented from entering UK to take up job offers.

Over 1,600 IT workers and engineers were denied UK visas between December 2017 and March 2018, despite receiving UK job offers - because the number applying exceeded the monthly limit allowed to enter the UK.

The government’s current tier-2 system caps the number of skilled workers from outside the EU who can be employed in the UK, with employers needing to demonstrate they have exhausted all avenues within the UK before looking to hire from abroad.

The Executive Director for the Campaign for Science and Engineering, Dr Sarah Main, has said that job offers in areas with skills shortages should be exempt from the home office cap, which imposes a monthly limit of 1,600 applicants.

Between December and March over 1,000 IT specialists and nearly 2,000 medical practitioners were denied visas for jobs they had been offered. Many authorities are concerned that UK immigration policy is hampering the government's efforts to develop a high-tech economy, especially in a candidate-short market.

Graduate

More than half of graduates look set to say “no thanks” to corporate careers

More than half of graduates would now prefer to set up their own business or work as a freelancer rather than work for an employer, a study has revealed. According to a study by Solopress, well over a million students in university education are considering setting up a business, with the start-up lifestyle more appealing for the new generation of workers. One of the biggest single contributors to this trend was the appeal of flexible working, while for many, the typical graduate starting salary simply isn’t enough.

This claims the majority of grads want to be their own boss and be more of an independent entrepreneur rather than work for an employer. If this pattern continues the graduate pool for employers will get even smaller – particularly in engineering and technology. Will we begin to see more graduate contractors? Is there really a market place for this?