More than 60% of businesses in the manufacturing sector are planning to increase wages in the year ahead, up from 56% last year, according to the latest Barclays Employers Survey.
Barclays questioned more than 650 UK businesses across all sectors, with the findings revealing that against a positive backdrop of continued falling unemployment and wage growth outstripping inflation in recent months, over half (52%) of UK manufacturers are expecting to boost staff levels, up from 48% last year, and above the overall cross-sector average job creation figure for 2015 of 50%.
Although the news on job creation is welcome, the report does also reveal that the manufacturing sector has more shortages within skilled trade roles than any other sector (75% compared to 54% overall).
Looking closely at the type of role that manufacturers are looking to create over the next year, the most striking increase shows a jump to 40% from 14% for jobs at senior management level.
The survey also reports that among those businesses looking to increase staff levels, 82% (2014: 78%) are expecting to increase jobs at a middle/junior management or skilled labour level with 74% (2014: 86%) looking to create new jobs at a low/unskilled level.
Barclays’ head of manufacturing, Mike Rigby commented: “As confidence returns to the sector, it is encouraging to see businesses looking to recruit across a range of roles.
“That said, access to labour is clearly a growing issue for many. As order books grow and production capacity increases, it is imperative that businesses have the right people in the right jobs, be it via new recruitment or up-skilling existing staff, to ensure they are well-positioned for future growth opportunities.”
The survey suggests that, where businesses are hiring apprentices, they may also be starting to play a key role in helping to address skills gaps.
Just under a third (32%) of manufacturers have taken on apprentices over the past year and 36% are looking to take on apprentices in 2015 (2014:34%). Manufacturing is the only business sector where the majority of apprentices will be taken on in a specific department with four in ten (41%) going straight into engineering.
When asked how confident they felt about the UK economy compared to the same time last year, just over two-fifths of manufacturers, 41% (2014:59%) confirmed they are more confident.
About half (51%) felt the same about the economy compared to 29% in last year’s survey.