KUKA UK & Ireland Announce Plans to Create Robot Clones of Staff, in a Bid to Bridge the Skills Gap

It is the proverbial thorn in the side of UK manufacturing: the skills gap – a fundamental discrepancy between the skills that employers require in their employees, and the skills that job seekers have.

01 April 2021

The challenge originates at grass roots level, in primary and secondary education and encouraging the next generation into pursuing STEM subjects in higher education and beyond. KUKA is deeply committed to ensuring young people have the best possible opportunities to study whilst pursuing a career in engineering, evidenced by our industry leading apprenticeship scheme. But as we look to the future and consider those skills that exist within our legacy workforce, we simply can’t employ sufficiently skilled engineers at a sustainable rate.

“The obvious solution is to create robot clones of our existing employees and retain those crucial skills, well into the future” says Jeff Nowill, Managing Director, KUKA UK. He adds “We rolled the idea out across our existing employee base, and the feedback was exceptionally positive. I believe that our staff are very passionate about sustaining manufacturing levels in the UK, so we as a nation can continue to compete on a global level”.

There has a been a little scepticism however, with one parent who wished to remain anonymous concerned about potentially having two sons. “He has a huge appetite so in one regard I am relieved that l shan’t be responsible for sustaining two of him, however the possibility of clothing two six foot-two’ers is a little daunting”.

Of the plans, Bernard Bagley, Head of Robot Sales - GI, KUKA UK said “Having recently expanded our operations at both our Halesowen and Wednesbury facilities, we certainly have the room to accommodate robotic clones. Business now is buoyant and in anticipation of this trend continuing, creating robot clones of our staff members is the logical thing to do, as the skills gap continues to challenge the UK manufacturing sector with sourcing appropriately skilled workers”.

There are several careful considerations that need to be explored prior to KUKA forging ahead with their plans, such as ensuring that the robot clones are not assigned to projects or tasks alongside their human namesakes.

“It wouldn’t be great if two Callum’s turned up at a customer’ premises” Steve Hudson, Head of Customer Services UK and Ireland said, continuing “That would potentially cause a lot of confusion. One Callum is quite enough”.

It might seem like something from a science fiction movie, but the idea will enable KUKA to address an increased number of practical applications across its engineering and customer service divisions.

Researchers and scientists alike have been exploring robot clones for some time now, and some robots have even entered mainstream society in certain technologically advanced countries.

“It’s just the next step in our evolution as providers of robotic process automation” Brian Cooney, Managing Director, KUKA Ireland concluded. “There has been a lot of discussion recently as to just how we can retain our internal talent. The skills gap is a significant issue, and we feel that robot clones are the solution for our future success”.

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