How is the manufacturing industry tackling the current skills gap?

According to the CBI’s latest Industrial Trends Survey, firms are citing the shortage of skilled labour in the manufacturing sector as the worse its been since the 1970s, and this continues to put a strain on manufacturing output.

This combined with increasing costs of materials has impacted business confidence and output.

So what are the factors that are causing the current acute shortages in the workforce?

  1. The industry has an ageing workforce and is experiencing workers retiring faster than new entrants are joining.
  2. According to a government study, 186,000 skilled engineers are required to join the workforce annually to plug the skills gap by 2024.
  3. According to the ECITB 20% of the current workforce is expected to retire by 2026, so unless workers remain in jobs after retirement age, this will place significant pressure on training new employees.
  4. There is continued pressure on the government to reform the Apprenticeship Levy to support the industry in driving skills in the sector.

Pressures continue post-Brexit and the need to establish a free flow of workers from the EU is being called for. The changing skill sets needed to meet the need for a tech-driven workforce, with the pandemic slowing internal training of existing teams and the drive for innovation in robotics and digitalization must be top of the agenda for training providers to support the sector.

As older members of the team retire, mentoring programs must be established to hand down knowledge, but this remains challenging with so many workers not having the capacity due to the lack of staff not giving them the time to deliver training.

(The ECITB specialises in Britain’s Energy and Processing sectors, including chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food processing, water and waste treatment.)

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