Why is it that, when it comes to sourcing the people they need to fill vital roles, UK manufacturers believe the deck is stacked against them?
The Manufacturer recently carried out a survey of UK companies – in partnership with the human capital management and workforce management company Kronos – to analyse the issue, and over the coming weeks we will be offering extracts from the report, together with the opportunity to download it in its entirety.
Last week we looked at recruitment and retention. This week, we look at why, when it comes to sourcing the people they need to fill vital roles, manufacturers believe the deck is stacked against them.
Surmounting the skills challenge
Manufacturers are responding to the recruitment and retention challenge by attempting to bring younger workers into their factories, therefore lowering the average age of their workforces, while simultaneously addressing the skills shortages. However, they also need to find new employees with existing skills sets.
A commendable number of manufacturers are prepared to vote with their wallets by offering apprenticeships in the current year. Impressively, almost a quarter of respondents (23%) reported offering more than 10 apprenticeship positions. On the other hand, a similar proportion (23%) said that they had offered no apprenticeship positions in the current year.
Overall, however, these are encouraging figures. More than three-quarters of respondents (77%) had offered at least one apprenticeship position in the current year, with over a third of respondents (37%) offering five or more.
It is especially encouraging, when one considers the sample universe, which contained significant numbers of manufacturers in the £10-50m revenue range, and with 100-500 employees.
Click here to download the full report.
Click here to download the full report.
This commitment becomes more explicable when examining manufacturers’ attitudes towards skills provision at a national level – in other words, the role played by government, the education system, and (where applicable) national industry-specific skills bodies.
Was enough being done to avoid a future skill shortage in UK manufacturing, for instance? The answer, reported most respondents, was a resounding, ‘no’. The overriding impression is that respondents thought companies should take the initiative themselves, rather than relying on government or industry bodies.
In fact, just 6% of respondents thought that enough was being done – hardly a resounding vote of confidence.
What’s more, this same criticism was seen in respondents’ views of the education system. Damningly, just 7% of respondents thought that the education system – including Further and Higher Education – was serving the needs of business well.
And while just over a quarter of manufacturers (26%) were prepared to accept that schools were doing “all right” – despite a shortage of technology colleges to prepare students for the world of work, the clear majority of respondents was scathing in its views of education.
Just over two-thirds of respondents, in fact, were of the view that the “the education system is failing”, and means manufacturers must take on the role of training new recruits themselves.
That said – equally damningly, perhaps – manufacturers may be guilty of doing too little to help themselves in this respect. Today’s modern factories are a far cry from the oppressive and grimy industrial workplaces of yesteryear, and yet manufacturers seem reluctant to broadcast this fact.
Given there is a generation of school and college leavers who are deterred from a career in manufacturing by scenes from the past which no longer reflect the reality on the ground, the value to be gained from redressing this through factory visits seems obvious.
Not so, it seems. Just 39% of respondents host visits from schools and civic group “regularly”, it transpired. A further 35% had hosted such visits “once or twice”. But, puzzlingly, over a quarter of respondents (26%) had never hosted such visits – even as they complained about skills shortages and the difficulties of recruitment.