Rising labour costs and mounting workforce shortages are a growing global concern for automotive manufacturing, according to a new survey commissioned by ABB Robotics produced in partnership with Automotive Manufacturing Solutions. Nearly a third (31%) of all respondents listed labour shortages among their top three challenges, while 35% ranked labour as their most concerning area when it came to rising costs.

Crucially, the survey revealed that these concerns are not confined to general shortages alone. More than half (56%) identified specific skills shortages when asked to select the challenges they face on labour and skills, followed by 48% who expressed the view that new skills were required by a fast-changing automotive landscape, suggesting more needed to be done to attract people to the industry.

“Outdated perceptions often cast automotive manufacturing in a negative light, but with smart automation, artificial intelligence and increasing use of virtualization, our industry is now one of the most exciting and cutting-edge places to work,” said Joerg Reger, managing director of ABB Robotics Automotive Business Line.

“Training, upskilling and education were cited by 58% of respondents – by far the largest single measure – as key to addressing the challenges of a changing workforce. That’s why we’ve developed programs in collaboration with schools and universities around the world to teach students automation and software skills,” said Reger.

The survey also highlighted regional variations throughout the industry, with general labour shortages a greater concern in North America (56%), compared to Asia (37%) and Europe (34%). Conversely, new skill sets are in much greater demand in Asia (57%), in contrast to just 37% in North America and 48% in Europe. OEMs and Tier 2 suppliers also ranked this concern highly.

The ABB survey includes close to 600 global industry experts, from vehicle manufacturers, and supplies at all levels of management, engineering and other key professionals throughout the automotive world.

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