It’s getting harder to recruit skilled staff for all areas of manufacturing


It’s a subject debated from Whitehall to works canteens. It’s getting harder to recruit skilled staff for all areas of manufacturing.

According to The Manufacturing Institute’s latest skills survey, 64 per cent of our respondents said that problems filling skilled roles were holding their businesses back.

The list of hard-to-fill jobs is long and varied.
Engineers, project engineers, project managers, electronics engineers, embedded software engineers, machine operators, general managers, CAD engineers, CAM engineers, maintenance engineers, applications engineers, fitters, department managers, lean minded supervisors/foremen and people with strong leadership skills are all proving difficult to recruit.
And more than 88 per cent of our respondents all agreed that they felt that the problem was getting worse.

Many companies are trying to tackle this problem internally, with 82 percent of our respondents running internal skills development programmes ranging from graduate apprentice programmes, apprenticeships, trainee-ships, short courses, internal training programmes, technical competency development systems and The Manufacturing Institute’s Accelerated Route to Lean Manufacturing programme. And 47 per cent of our respondents are also partnering with external organisations to fill the skills gap.

When asked what was the one thing you would do to address the skills shortage almost all of our respondents agreed that the answer was to engage young people in schools to look at manufacturing and engineering as a career.

Suggestions included: “Promote STEM subjects in schools and from a young age, with career choices from these subjects.”

“Schools need a better understanding that manufacturing is a good career.”

“I believe engineering apprenticeships leading to degree courses are the best way to train engineers for the future.”

“Educate the teachers about manufacturing and how well paid it is.”

“More focus at school/college level on promoting Manufacturing as a worthwhile career objective to improve the quality of young candidates who at present seem unwilling or ill-prepared for manual work. “

“Best solution would be to get schools and universities to concentrate not just on technical learning, but also about real life application of the science, learning how to do things with a business head (focus on delivery)”

“Quicker identification of new recruits who could identity with and adapt to our systems.”

Summing up the survey results Dr Julie Madigan, The Manufacturing Institute’s Chief Executive said: “We are in the middle of a war for talent and it is concerning to see that this is beginning to hold manufacturing businesses back.

“Just to stand still, manufacturing will need hundreds of thousands of recruits in the next 10 years so we need a concerted effort to promote manufacturing across the board.

“It is encouraging to see that many of our respondents believe that engaging young people in manufacturing and engineering is one of the key answers to this problem, and I’m proud that our schools Make It campaign has inspired more than 60,000 teenagers and teachers over the last 10 years.

“There are also new opportunities in manufacturing that will require even more advanced skills on top of the existing problem. “

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