Skills shortage worries


40% of UK manufacturers polled by Subcon – the subcontract manufacturing supply chain show, which opens at Birmingham’s NEC tomorrow – are worried about a future skills shortage in their business.

20% blame the pandemic on the lack of availability of overseas workers, but only 7% believe that responsibility lies with Brexit.

When it comes to recruiting and retaining young people specifically, the research showed that:

  • 14% of the 81 respondents confirmed they are finding it difficult to attract young people into the business
  • Only 9% have policies in place to attract younger workers
  • Just 5% have an adequate apprenticeship programme in place
  • Not a single respondent agreed that T Levels will help to engage young people in a manufacturing career

There was less apparent concern with regards to attracting more women workers (no one answered yes to having such a policy in place), or those from marginalised communities (just 4% answered yes here).

“The UK manufacturing sector has struggled with a shortage of skilled workers for many years, but recently it has been magnified thanks to a perfect storm of Brexit, Covid and other factors, which is battering our supply chain. Just a few days ago, the Road Haulage Association estimated that the UK has a shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers leading to multiple stock issues,” said Subcon event director Gordon Kirk.

“In addition, this sector urgently needs to transition to a digital future. Currently, management is dominated by people from an older generation when what it needs is to bring in software engineers and data experts if it’s got a hope of filling the huge skills divide. Somehow, we need to make manufacturing an appealing career opportunity for young people again.”

The Subcon conference agenda touches on the skills issue through the following sessions:

  • Tuesday 14 September: PrintCity story: how industry and academia are collaborating to bridge the digital skills gap, fuelling innovation in engineering and manufacturing
  • Tuesday 14 September: Productivity gains through a focus on youth
  • Wednesday 15 September: The next generation of engineers in the manufacturing sector

Subcon takes place in-person at the NEC, Birmingham from tomorrow – 14-16 September – alongside The Engineer Expo and Manufacturing Management Show. Over 120 suppliers will be exhibiting and there are 26 free conference sessions in The Engineer and Manufacturing Management Theatres.