Study Finds More Than 44% of European Manufacturers Struggle to Outpace Competitors Due to Lack of Skilled Workforce

  • March 15, 2023
  • Rockwell Automation
  • News
Study Finds More Than 44% of European Manufacturers Struggle to Outpace Competitors Due to Lack of Skilled Workforce
Study Finds More Than 44% of European Manufacturers Struggle to Outpace Competitors Due to Lack of Skilled Workforce

March 14, 2023 - Rockwell Automation, Inc., the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and digital transformation, announced the results of the 8th annual study, “The State of Smart Manufacturing,” offering valuable insights into trends, challenges and plans for global manufacturers. The global study surveyed more than 1,350 respondents from 13 countries, including several in Europe, such as the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany.  
The clear message coming from this report is that the manufacturers view technology as an advantage for improving quality, agility and innovation and attracting the next generation of talent. 
“Manufacturers expect to mitigate risk through technology, tighter processes and people to build resiliency and drive future success,” according to Sachin Mathur, director of software and control, EMEA, Rockwell Automation. “We hope industry finds the report useful in benchmarking their organizations and as a catalyst for taking action to drive transformation that will deliver differentiated business outcomes in your industry.”
Additional key global findings include:

  • Globally, twice as many respondents say they lack the technology to outpace the competition compared with last year’s surveying. Recent years have made a compelling business case for many newer technologies, as market conditions have demanded accelerated adoption, and this unprecedented pace of change is creating competitive pressure across the industry. In Europe, only 39% of respondents identified technology as an obstacle to outpacing the competition, compared with the global average of 43%.
  • Sustainability and ESG are integral to manufacturing. More than 95% of global respondents noted some level of sustainability and/or ESG policy over the past two years, whether formal or informal. Regulations are applying pressure across the value chain for all companies to address sustainability and ESG in their operations. Europe lags behind the global average, with just 91% of organizations claiming to have some ESG policy.
  • 50% more global manufacturers are using machine learning and artificial intelligence compared with last year. This number will continue to rise as manufacturers see the impact that accessible machine learning can have on improving their business outcomes. 
  • Overall, a third of global manufacturers are challenged by technology paralysis and the inability to decide between solutions. Technology is demonstrated throughout the report as being crucial to mitigating risk and delivering growth. So, manufacturers must overcome indecision by choosing a partner with relevant expertise and experience who can advise and guide them in implementing a fit-for-purpose solution.
  • 97% of global participants reported plans to use smart manufacturing technology to enable and optimize more agile, resilient production processes, empowering the workforce to manage risk, drive sustainability, and accelerate transformation.
 Among global respondents managing people and resources (40%) is seen as the biggest leadership challenge in the next year. Europe agrees but assessing business needs and technology/talent fit ranks first at 36.8% followed by effectively managing people and resources at 36.5%

Other European perspectives:
  • When it comes to considering how helpful technology can be in addressing workforce challenges, 65% of European organizations consider it at least very helpful. However, this figure was well behind global leaders, with the US (84%), India (83%), and Mexico (80%) leading the way.  
  • Of those who have already adopted smart manufacturing initiatives, 39% of European companies say that the main barrier to adopting smart manufacturing is the cost of smart manufacturing initiatives. Close behind was the lack of knowledge of smart manufacturing technology and its benefits, at 38%. 
  • When it comes to the percentage of operating budget invested in technology, India leads the way at 34.71%, followed by the US at 26.96%, and Japan at 24.23%. Europe was well below the global average, investing only 21.6% of operation budgets towards technology.

 “While the landscape is not predictable, history clearly shows that adversity ignites innovation and creates opportunity. Manufacturers with the right vision and strategy bias for action and partners will seize this moment to outpace our competitors and forge a bright future,” Mathur concluded.


This report analyzed feedback from 1,353 respondents from 13 of the top manufacturing countries with roles from management up to the C-suite and was conducted in association with Sapio Research and Plex Systems. The survey covered discrete, process, and hybrid industries across a balanced distribution of company sizes with revenues spanning $10 million to over $10 billion, providing a wide breadth of manufacturing business perspectives. 

About Rockwell Automation

Rockwell Automation, Inc. is a global leader in industrial automation and digital transformation. We connect the imaginations of people with the potential of technology to expand what is humanly possible, making the world more productive and more sustainable. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rockwell Automation employs approximately 26,000 problem solvers dedicated to our customers in more than 100 countries.

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