The publication of the EEF manifesto, Securing a manufacturing renaissance: priorities for Government, follows a recent survey which revealed that 59% of UK manufacturers are worried about the impact that the move to the technology-driven “fourth industrial revolution” will have on skills, while 63% are expecting a growing demand for highly skilled workers.
EEF wants to see a 25% increase in the number of apprentices completing engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships. It is also pushing for 90% of state secondary school maths, physics, chemistry and biology teachers to have at least a post A-level qualification in the subject they teach.
Other key targets for 2020 are a 25% increase in the number of UK engineering graduates, and a 25% reduction in the number of hard-to-fill manufacturing vacancies. EEF wants to see the Government and manufacturers working together to drive the skills agenda because it says that this will not only secure competitive gains for business, but also deliver employment and higher living standards for workers.
In addition to sustained growth in the sector's talent pipeline, EEF says that investment in the national skills infrastructure must be leveraged to deliver the greatest economic benefit. Policy-makers must also listen more and allow employers to play a bigger role in driving the skills agenda.
“This is a blueprint for the future of manufacturing and for policies that will support the demand not just for more skilled workers, but for more workers with higher-level skills,” says EEF CEO, Terry Scuoler. “The face of manufacturing is changing as a result of rapid advances in technology. This change is global and will see us face fiercer competition from other manufacturing and trading nations. In turn, it will place immense pressure on both the talent pipeline and the existing skills pool. It is vital that the Government steps up to this challenge and works hand-in-hand with manufacturers to ensure that the UK is not left behind.”