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CASTING A LIGHT ON THE MANUFACTURING SKILLS GAP SURVEY SHOWS 95% SAY LEVY MUST BE CHANGED


An issue that has been concerning professionals in the manufacturing industry is the lack of a skilled workforce. While Brexit will end free movement, meaning fewer skilled EU workers will move to the UK, the truth is that a skills shortage already existed before 2016. Employers are in dire need of skilled manufacturers and engineers to combat the current gap, which continues to worsen as older employees retire and not enough properly trained young people enter the industry. Growing the manufacturing


workforce is a crucial step that can’t be postponed; at the moment, approximately 186,000 new engineers and manufacturers are needed every year until 2024, but we’re currently facing a deficit of 20,000 graduates annually. Tackling this issue is key to creating a strong manufacturing base. From the 6,000 UK


manufacturing businesses surveyed by the British Chamber of Commerce at the end of 2018, 81% of them found it difficult to hire employees with the right qualifications and experience. But why is the UK facing a skills gap in the first place? The general public has


Manufacturing Report, Hennik Research found that 57% of UK manufacturers believe the education system is disastrous for the industry and needs a total overhaul. In the manufacturing industry,


a lot of misconceptions about the industry and what a career in manufacturing really means; the perception a lot of people have, including young students, is that manufacturing is not a stimulating or creative profession – or a rewarding one. In addition, many see manufacturing as a lower-quality choice with fewer career prospects. Crushing this stereotype is vital. But this is not the only


contributing factor. Education plays a major role in growing the number of people entering the industry. An interest in manufacturing should begin earlier than university, so that businesses can partner with school and career events to raise awareness of the sector and spark an interest among students. However, many don’t think education is currently doing enough. In their 2019 Annual


Graham Stubbs, managing director, Dean Group


workers need to be able to keep up with market and technological changes – otherwise, it can be difficult for businesses to meet the demands of increased output. The modern workforce needs to have a completely different set of skills than the one required just a few years ago, and a lack of proper training can contribute to the widening skills gap in the industry. Even though Brexit


shouldn’t be blamed for this skills gap, it’s not doing


anything to help. A large number of UK manufacturers employ citizens from the European Union in their businesses, but once free movement ends, a decrease in the availability of EU nationals will only worsen the existing skills shortage. If the current skills shortage


continues to grow, it’s likely businesses will be unable to fulfil their customers’ demands. Manufacturers may see their productivity decline due to slower production, increased costs and performance issues. Moreover, a lack of skills can affect a business’s ability to remain competitive in today’s global market. This is why it’s so important to


invest in people and to implement learning opportunities. For a long time, children have been taught that


skilled labour is beneath their potential, so now it’s time to break this stigma. Increasing the number of


apprenticeships in manufacturing is therefore a great solution for businesses looking to bridge the skills gap. Apprenticeships help to increase awareness of the industry and to dispel the many misconceptions surrounding it and allow young people to have first-hand, on-the-job experience of the manufacturing world. Also, given that today’s


manufacturing requires specialised knowledge and expertise, it’s necessary that employees learn digital and programming skills, have a deep understanding of automation and know how to work with advanced machinery. Training people in these relevant skills is key to growing the workforce, boosting productivity and staying competitive. Addressing the low number of


women in manufacturing is also a good way to start closing the skills gap. Competency in problem-solving, excelling at conflict resolution, learning how to negotiate and communicate well and working well with others are crucial skills to have in manufacturing – and they’re not gender-specific. Reducing a skills shortage that has


been years in the making may be a challenge for many; however, knowing where this gap is coming from and how it can affect manufacturing, will help businesses, workers, students and organisations to work towards a solution together. www.deangroup-int.co.uk


Britain’s manufacturers are calling for an urgent rethink to the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy to make access to funding more flexible so that industry can develop the essential skills of the future. The call comes on the back of a


report by Make UK, ‘An Unlevy playing field for manufacturers’, which reveals that 95% of manufacturers want to see the Apprenticeship Levy changed to an employer-led system to deliver the skills of the future, with just 5% happy with the current system. This figure has not changed from a year ago, showing that manufacturers’ frustrations remain strong. A lack of appropriate


apprenticeship training standards (training course criteria) available to employers to deliver the skills their businesses need is preventing employers from training the new generation of workers, fill vital skills gaps and growing their businesses. Half of manufacturing levy-payers (50%) now want to see the Levy re- worked, giving them flexibility to spend the levy they pay on all forms of training for all their employees, not just apprenticeships. Less than one-in-five levy


payers is currently managing to spend all of their levy funds with one in five manufacturers saying they would prefer to see the Levy scrapped altogether. Despite the challenges,


manufacturers remain champions of apprenticeships with 65% having recruited an engineering apprentice in the last 12 months. Manufacturers indicate they


will further pick up the pace in the year ahead with 73% planning to recruit an engineering apprentice. However, 11% of manufacturers


say they have delayed or cancelled an engineering apprenticeship directly because of the Levy. www.makeuk.org


Tel: 01635 279621 Te Ema l:Email: eurosales@cwst.com ales@ We t. Web: www.cwst.co.uk


6 JULY/AUGUST 2019 | PROCESS & CONTROL


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