Drives and Controls Magazine
Manufacturers invest more to plug skills gap
Published:  09 November, 2012

British manufacturers are increasing their investment to meet the demand for skilled employees, according to a new survey by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation and the recruitment consultancy, JAM Recruitment. But only a minority of manufacturers say that the government’s efforts to create a simpler demand-led skills system have made it easier for them to invest in the skills they need.

“Manufacturers are taking the initiative to ensure that skills gaps don’t hold them back from their ambitions to develop new products and services and expand into new markets,” says the EEF’s head of employment and skills policy, Tim Thomas. “But despite the government’s best efforts, investing in apprenticeships and finding the right qualifications, training courses and provider is still far from straightforward.     
“The time is ripe to go further and put employers in the driving seat by giving them the power to set the standards for their industry, the scope to decide how to train their apprenticeships and by routing public funding for training through the firms that invest in it,” he adds. “In doing so, the government should resist the vested interests of training providers to maintain the status quo, and the calls to add more bureaucracy to the system by giving LEPs control of skills budgets.”  

More than half of the 200 companies surveyed reported that their training spend had increased in the past two years, while about 60% predicted that it would increase in the next two.

Other key findings were that 
•  74% of the companies surveyed report that finding and recruiting employees is a key concern, with almost half calling it their main business concern;
•  60% expect skill needs in production to increase in next three years;
•  68% are offering Apprenticeships, mostly for up to four years; and
•  43% disagreed that access to funding for training is easier than two years ago.