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Upgrade to boost robot demand

Ma Si and Liu Ce
Updated: May 18,2016 7:32 AM     China Daily

A technician commands an industrial robot at the workshop of Ruihong Robot Ltd in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province.[Photo by Thomas Wei for China Daily]

China will have a “huge” demand for robotics professionals as the world’s second largest economy is trying to upgrade its labor-intensive industry with technological innovation, said the chief of China’s largest robot manufacturer by market value.

Qu Daokui, president of Siasun Robot & Automation Co, said: “As the national high-end manufacturing initiative ’Made in China 2025’ gains momentum, more efforts are needed to cultivate talents to make, operate and sustain robots.”

Qu’s comment came as China is planning to triple its annual production of robots used in the manufacturing sector to 100,000 in five years.

Currently, the country is already the world’s largest market for industrial robots, accounting for a quarter of global sales, according to the International Federation of Robotics.

Qu said China is in great need of world-level robot research and development teams as well as high-end technicians, as companies across the country are cranking up the automation of factories.

In February, Siasun bought Teutloff Training and Welding Education Non-profit Ltd Liability Company, a leading German mechanical engineering vocational school, for an undisclosed sum.

The deal, which Siasun said is the first full Chinese acquisition of a German vocational institute, will give the company, based in Shenyang, Liaoning province, access to Germany’s decades of experience in vocational training.

It is also part of Siasun’s broad efforts to compete with foreign heavyweights such as ABB Ltd, and KUKA Robotics Corp in China, where many corporate clients know little about operating robots and therefore extra technical training will help boost sales.

“We are planning to open 10 to 20 domestic training centers within two years to nurture robot talents,” Qu said, adding that the company is discussing cooperation with vocational schools.

On May 17, Boston Consulting Group Inc said in its latest report that China’s efforts to boost manufacturing prowess will reshape the country’s labor landscape, affecting around one million jobs in the near future.

“Low-skill and low-value jobs will be replaced by robots, while there will be a growing desire for robot-savvy employees, electrical and mechanical engineers, software developers, big data scientists and other sophisticated jobs,” said Victor Du, a partner and managing director at Boston.

According to Du, China has already cultivated a big pool of efficient workers after three decades of rapid growth in the manufacturing industry. “This laid a solid foundation for it to upgrade the talent base to accelerate transformation,” he added.

China’s intensified efforts to promote the use of industrial robots also came amid a looming labor shortage, which has spurred a surge in labor costs in the world’s most populous country.

Christian Guse, principal at BCG, said cutting-edge products will make it easier for Chinese companies to nurture qualified employees.

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