EEF appoints Prof John Perkins as engineering and skills adviser

Posted on 12 May 2016 by Jonny Williamson

EEF has announced the appointment of Professor John Perkins – the Government’s former Chief Scientific Adviser for business and author of its ground-breaking review of engineering skills in the UK - as an adviser.

Professor Perkins, who teaches at the University of Manchester, will support EEF as it strengthens its skills and innovation policy work and training provision in a bid to tackle the growing skills gap in the sector.

The move is in direct response to  EEF’s recently published skills report, which warned that manufacturers’ plans to drive productivity improvements and to capitalise on the fourth industrial revolution could be derailed because the UK is struggling to provide the right quantity and quality of skills to meet the sector’s needs.

Professor Perkins sits on the judging panel for TM Top 100.

The Manufacturer Top 100 project, now in its third year, is an annual published list of 100 inspiring figures in manufacturing.

It aims to raise the profile of industry, dispel the myths surrounding it, create a platform to publicly identify dynamic individuals in the sector, and show to the world that manufacturing is a vibrant, exciting, creative and well-paid industry to be involved in.

If you know someone who is achieving great feats in industry, nominate them in 200 words or less before May 31.

To submit a nomination, or to find out more information, click here.  

With demand on the increase for people experienced in all forms of engineering, management and technical manufacturing skills, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive industry and government-led strategy.

Professor Perkins has joined EEF as an adviser to work with the body on its strategy to help alleviate the immediate impact on firms, while working with government on longer-term solutions. He will also advise EEF on closer links between universities and industry.

Chief executive of EEF, Terry Scuoler explained: “As a leading engineer and expert in this field, Professor Perkins will help us navigate the complex skills issues facing our sector and the UK as a whole. The changing landscape with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and the chronic shortage of engineers and other skilled employees is hitting our sector hard.

“The skills crunch is acting as a serious brake on productivity and, unsurprisingly, it is a top priority for many companies. It requires a radical approach and reinvigorated support from Government and stakeholders at a time when we need to re-boot our commitment to engineering and manufacturing across all policy areas.”

Almost three quarters of manufacturers (73%) have found it difficult to recruit skilled workers in the past three years. They are challenged by both the quantity and quality of candidates, with firms regularly forced to contend with a lack of technical skills (67%), an insufficient number of applicants (64%) and a lack of relevant experience (61%).

At the same time, government (UKCES) statistics show that the number of ‘hard-to-fill’ vacancies in manufacturing remains stubbornly high at 35% – unchanged from 2013 and worse than in 2011 when it was at 30%.

Professor Perkins commented: “When I published my review of engineering in 2013, it was clear that we urgently needed to equip our new and existing workforce with the right skills and learning opportunities to support industry. That challenge has not gone away – in fact it is becoming more acute.”