Make UK (the manufacturers’ organisation) says the skills gaps in the manufacturing sector are entrenched, well-documented and seemingly intractable.
“Equally, they should not be underestimated. After endless chops and changes in government policy — an apprenticeship levy, new grading for GCSEs, T-levels as an alternative to A-levels, to name but a few — little seems to have changed.
“Our sector is still short of 59,000 engineering graduates and technicians each year, despite having nearly 130,000 apprenticeship ‘starts’ across the UK in the 2015/16 academic year — starts that have been falling since the apprenticeship levy was introduced.
“Simply tapping into the same talent pools has failed to fill the skills gaps . . . Manufacturers need to think outside the ‘traditional talent box’ and find new ways to secure the people and skills that seem so elusive.”
Make UK (www.makeuk.org
) says its national manufacturing conference on 25 February will lay the platform for manufacturers to do just this, adding that around 80% of the people that UK manufacturers need to train are already in the workforce.
“Inventively doing more with the current stock of skills, as well as adding to the stock, is key to bridging skills gaps. At a time when the number of EU workers coming to the UK is tailing off, growing your own talent will become more important than ever.
“With just 8% of young apprentices being girls, and only 16% of engineering places at universities being filled by women, there is a need to show off the best that manufacturing careers can offer.
“The conference will provide insight on where and how to look for talent that may already be right in front of UK manufacturers.”
Andrea Rodney, Hone All Precision Ltd director (pictured), said: “Many manufacturers see plugging the skills gap as an impossible task, having tried and failed numerous times to find the talent they need due to the lack of good quality apprenticeships.
"However, there are many new and different ways to tackle old problems.
“Parts of the local labour market are too often overlooked, and manufacturers now need to find a fresh approach to an age-old challenge.”