Thriving UK industry remains wary of skills gap

Posted on 7 May 2014 by The Manufacturer

A new report released today shows UK manufacturing is becoming increasingly innovative and diverse in its output, but also finds companies remain concerned about the skills gap.

The Insight into Modern Manufacturing report has been issued by Engineering the Future, an alliance of professional institutions comprising of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

Through a series of interviews, the report paints a positive picture of the UK manufacturing with business confidence high, but companies questioned believe greater dialogue with government is needed in order to continue industry growth.

It also detailed how after the recession, manufacturers have redesigned their business strategies to account for similar events in the future, with an emphasis on slimming down procedures, cutting waste and increasing production efficiency.

Andrew Churchill, managing director of JJ Churchill, one of the companies interviewed in the report, said the report recognises the diversity of the sector and conjures up some common themes.

“From my perspective, I’m not looking for the government to either plan for me or run my business, but there remains some key areas where their engagement is essential,” he said.

“These include the on-going need for a clear, top-level vision from government together with consistency and predictability of any intervention; the vexed skills issue and global competitiveness of the UK as a manufacturing base as described by fiscal attractiveness.“

Manufacturers also believe that Government support for their sector is effective, but improvement are needed in more consistent levels of engagement.

Nigel Fine, chair of the Engineering the Future Plenary which produced the report, said the findings show the reality of UK manufacturing is different from the perceptions.

“Its great news to see that the UK’s manufacturing industry, which is often perceived as struggling, is in such fine form. The priority now must be to make sure it stays that way,” he said.

“A two-way dialogue between government and manufacturers will ensure that support can be consistently delivered to improve this valuable part of the economy. We should celebrate the diversity and success of our manufacturers in spite of such a challenging economic situation over the last few years.”