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Reflections on 2023 and the challenges and opportunities of 2024
by Joe Pacitti, CeeD Managing Director
As 2023 comes to a close, it is always worth looking back to see what some of the highlights and lowlights may have been, not just for the core team in CeeD but the actual membership itself – the actual CeeD network.
It is fair to say that the successes seem to stick out more that the failures and perhaps this is down to an optimistic viewpoint or as I always feel the strong resilience and ingenuity that flows from engineering and manufacturing.
1. Continuing to manage the transition to increased levels of F2F delivery has been a real positive, reflected by the strong attendance at events engagement generally.
We have done so with personnel and project transitions, so our empathy across our membership is strong as we managed the changes in resource talent and funding shifts that many of our members also do on an ongoing basis. One or two companies ceased trading, but often some form of phoenix arrangement popped up.
2. The CeeDAwards23 in March reflected a great event well attended and importantly so many great stories shared with some very worthy winners being recognised. It is always a bit of déjà vu moment here as we ramp down from delivery and move straight onto the next one. So, note for your calendars - 29th Feb 2024 for the next celebration
3. Some fantastic stories of members doing great things have found their way to the newsletters and email blasts throughout 2023. However, the good news stories and tips shared in the events and meetings provide further value, as the network is always the more richer when the sharing is personal and can be examined more interactively.
There have been some delivery transitions with some programmes reaching their funding end – but I may say not the natural end of the project spirit. What do I mean by that? Well, the Advancing Manufacturing Cluster Builder and the WasteMap/Netzero projects were initiated with external funding but the legacy and opportunity and demand across the membership and sector continues. This means that we are continuing to support our network as best we can and having to do so creatively.
It is clear that a model of short-term funding from Government initiatives continues to put strain right across our eco-system, and we see this with many of our stakeholders and partners. If I had one wish, it would be to see more long term support and true partnerships between Government and industry support realised. Not just supporting the very big initiatives that may be some way off in terms of impact, but acknowledging those more immediate/traditional and perhaps transition-based activities to ensure they get equal support.
I strongly believe that bodies such as CeeD are there to help with the range of short, medium and long-term opportunities out there.
Supply chain challenges continue to be a thread and theme of discussion across the sector. There is talk of reshoring and alternative materials and resources, with remanufacturing and circular economy models also certainly current and future topics of note. Of course, the skills and talent challenges in our sectore (and do many others) have been with us for a while and the demand to meet the need for the right human capital will require levels of creativity and innovation.
CeeD have continued to look at ways to help our community share best practice as well as starting to look to see what we can do in our own and pragmatic way to help.
The Goals for 2024
The main focus for us and our membership needs to be innovation. In terms of business product and service innovation itself, we have continued to deliver our innovation sandpit event TradingZone. A model where organisations come together to stimulate opportunities and solutions through collaborative dialogues as the starter to more focussed collaborative projects.
We have taken our own innovation journey in our activity mix. One example is our long-held belief that by bringing early stage and often disruptive technology businesses into CeeD that this is a good thing – not just for those businesses but also the existing and experienced businessed seeking disruptive technology and new supply chains.
We have already shared that we were successful in securing some short-term funding to kick start our 'Sow the Seeds' programme for early stage and start-up companies.
We have also been working with some of core members to set out some foundations to look at how we can help with some gaps in the skills challenge by looking at internship models. Essentially bringing the engineering and manufacturing HE & FE talent going through formal education to match up to the flexible working opportunities in industry directly related to their field of study.
Not a new concept but perhaps one that has lost a bit of visibility from years past. We believe the 'CeeD Academy' (as we are calling it) provides such strong benefits to the industrial organisations, the learners and the learning institutions, that it just need support and a little lean-in to make such a difference to the future of Scotland.
We face some real opportunities and challenges ahead with the digital transformation across all sectors and, in particular, with the massive ramping up of AI. Our sector is multifaceted and multidisciplined so some of the opportunities it brings us can be immediately put into use.
The ability to pull on massive data sources to design new products, to analyse processes and improve productivity have started, but perhaps the validation of these tools is where we see 2024 going. Other parts of our networks may already be embracing this in productivity gain in, boilerplate agreements, data analysis and copywriting for marketing and blogs!
I admit I did go to my AI tool and ask it to write me a blog. Is the draft AI generated?
Well yes and no. Yes, it helped with some ideas to get me going but No, I penned this myself as I believe they should be personal. I can see that with the right personal input and being skilful on creating 'The Prompts' and using AI as a data gathering and research tool, then adding your own style and craft can make you better, more productive, think a little wider but still speak with your own voice and views.
We will certainly all work together over the next 12 months to make even more sense of the opportunities ahead, drawing from our past knowledge, embracing the present learning as we go and preparing for the future that lies ahead.
I want to wish all in the CeeD community a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous 2024 and beyond!