26 May 2017

Manufacturing skills needed to bolster industry

Cranfield University has revealed new research which points to a skills shortage within manufacturing.

The research highlights the importance of leadership, innovation, management and other non-technical skills within manufacturing and the need to recruit new talent into the sector.

The research was put together through a systematic review and analysis of over 350 reports from Government, trade NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) and the media. It points to further shortages within technical areas such as robotics and artificial intelligence, software skills, data analysis and electronic and electrical engineering. Some 62% of reports mentioned a shortage of skills in robotics and artificial intelligence, while 55% reveal a shortage of data analysis skills and 46% reveal a shortage of innovative skills.

According to the report there are five key reasons for skills shortages within manufacturing:

  • Young people in the UK have less interest in manufacturing related subjects;
  • Female employment in manufacturing is far less than male employment;
  • The perception that employees have lower income in the manufacturing sector;
  • The lack of applicants with the right skills to fill open posts; and
  • UK manufacturing has an ageing workforce, which needs replacements quickly.

A further highlight of the report is that the responsibility for addressing the skills shortage is not clearly defined. Employers believe the Government needs to be more proactive in pushing the issue, while the Government is looking to employers to address the issue.

Key recommendations from the report include the development of an apprenticeship levy, improvements to manufacturing apprenticeships, overseas recruitment and greater collaboration in improving the appeal of the sector.

The report was launched at the eighth annual National Manufacturing Debate hosted by Cranfield University.

Launching the National Manufacturing Debate White Paper 2017, Professor Rajkumar Roy, Director of Manufacturing at Cranfield, said: “This analysis shows that the sector faces some key challenges in skills development that will have long-term implications for manufacturing productivity in the UK. Our report also highlights a lack of clarity as to who is responsible for tackling this skills deficit with employers looking to Government and the Government looking to employers.

 “All of us involved in manufacturing, industry, schools and universities, must work together, as a matter of urgency to address this critical skills shortage.

 “We must implement industry, school and university collaboration to design the teaching curriculum, so that what is being taught reflects the latest developments in manufacturing. We should monitor our progress on this through OFSTED for schools and the Teaching Excellence Framework for universities.”


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