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Intelligent mobility sector faces skills gap, warns Transport System Catapult

Deniz Huseyin
04 November 2016
Transport System Catapult aims to develop an ‘intelligent mobility hub’
Transport System Catapult aims to develop an ‘intelligent mobility hub’
Transport System Catapult considered three investment options. Its preferred option is the medium level option approach as it can help secure a significant number of newly skilled people and helps fuel strong GDP growth as a cost competitive option.
Transport System Catapult considered three investment options. Its preferred option is the medium level option approach as it can help secure a significant number of newly skilled people and helps fuel strong GDP growth as a cost competitive option.

 

The UK faces a potential skills shortage of 742,000 people in the intelligent sector by 2025, warns a new report from Transport System Catapult (TSC). 

Intelligent mobility (IM) is a “fast-growing and lucrative market” which will have a global market value of £900bn a year by 2025, states the report. The UK is in a strong position to win a “significant share of this market”, with a five-year £200m Intelligent Mobility Programme now in place, funded jointly by the government and private sector. 

However, the skills gap must be urgently tackled, particularly in the fields of computer science, maths and statistics, infrastructural and sectoral engineering.

If nothing is done to create the necessary skills base then UK GDP levels will be hit by as much as £50bn a year, says the report.

The UK transport industry must move away from its “traditional silo-based landscape” where the focus has been on developing a working with traditional STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] skills, argues TSC.

“There is a strong preference among the transport industry for higher degree apprenticeships to address the future skills gap, coupled with the need for greater and consistent understanding of IM and the opportunity this market presents.”

To capitalise on the growing IM market, there is a “clear need for new skills and upskilling with an emphasis on high value ‘digital skills’ that transcend traditional sectoral boundaries”.

The current skills base is hindered by an ageing workforce, lack of diversity, competition for skilled labour from other sectors and “the inability of workers to move across the transport sectors”.

Any hopes that immigration might help close the skills gap have probably been scuppered by Brexit, the report implies. “If anything, development of the IM markets is likely to lead to stiffer international competition, particularly for Asia and major US technology corporations.”

Investment in skills development will require university, college and apprentice courses to bring in experts and teachers from a range of specialist backgrounds “while encouraging problem-based, contextualized learning, and team collaborations.”

TSC looked at three options for closing the skills gap, each with different levels of investment. Its preferred option is “medium level investment” of £71m a year, expected to create 100,000 skilled workers and generate an annual UK GDP of £1.5bn. This option would result in a return on investment (ROI) of 17.1, the report suggests.

“These interventions will be delivered through the creation of an intelligent mobility community hub, which will bring together existing industry, educational and government initiatives to create a coordinated ‘virtual hub’ that supports overall skills development,” says TSC. 

This will involve a range of interventions from early education to post graduate training, while supporting transfers from other sectors. 

There are too few women in the transport industry, the report notes. “In the cross-cutting digital sector this represents an untapped growth of £2.6bn per annum. Women still only represent 6% of the engineering workforce and only 15.5% of the STEM workforce.”

Intelligent Mobility Skills Strategy

Team Leader Transport
Slough Borough Council
Slough – Observatory House
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Rail & Roads Director
Transport for the North
Manchester
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Team Leader Transport
Slough Borough Council
Slough – Observatory House
£44,428 to £49,498 plus £7,000 market supplement; Local Weighting Allowance of £1039 per annum
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