A report published by manufacturers’ organisation EEF suggests plans to drive productivity improvements in the UK are at risk due to a lack of skilled workers.
The 2016 Skills Report also says plans to capitalise on Industry 4.0 could be “derailed” because the UK is struggling to provide the right quantity and quality of skills to meet the manufacturing sector’s needs.
This report contains a clear warning – we are just about treading water today and the struggle is only going to get harder
Tim Thomas, director of employment and skills policy at EEF
That, along with a demand for skills expected to increase further, would cause the situation to spiral further out of control, warned EEF.
Tim Thomas, director of employment and skills policy at EEF, said: “Despite multiple warnings about the UK’s yawning skills gap, the dial hasn’t moved since 2012.
“Manufacturers continue to struggle to find the right people with the right skills – undoubtedly this has led to lost opportunities for employers, would-be employees and the UK economy.”
Figures taken from the report suggest 73% of manufacturers have found it difficult to recruit skilled workers in the last three years, while 67% of companies are “regularly forced” to contend with a lack of technical skills.
Manufacturers are attempting to overcome issues by offering competitive salaries (84%), training (50%) and opportunities to work in other areas of the business (49%).
Almost half (43%) of those surveyed are also offering flexible working conditions, the report finds.
“Had manufacturers not already been taking action we would arguably already be over the cliff-edge and not just approaching it,” Thomas said.
“But this report contains a clear warning – we are just about treading water today and the struggle is only going to get harder. The demand for skills is going to soar in response to manufacturers’ productivity plans and their ambitions around Industry 4.0. Getting the right quantity and quality in place will be critical, which is why we are urging the government to take firm action now,” he added.