London losing out

Posted on 22 Sep 2010 by The Manufacturer

London skills gap is letting a potential £6million of productivity wealth slip away from regional manufacturing according to new research from Semta.

Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies released new research this week which estimates that skills shortages across the region are costing almost £6 million in lost productivity.

The data reveals that despite the impact of the recession engineering, manufacturing and science companies still have vacancies they are not able to fill because of skills shortages. In addition, 18% of London businesses in Semta’s sectors report skills gaps amongst staff – a figure that is projected to increase as older skilled workers retire, taking their skills with them.

Semta has long identified the potential hazards of allowing industry skills gaps to grow and has been advising businesses on a national and local level on ways to combat skills shortages in their companies. Acknowledging the constraints of recession Semta has also taken the initiative of providing free training resources and planning structures and establishing regional councils to facilitate communication between industry and government around skills issues.

Philip Whiteman, chief executive of Semta said: “We know that investing in skills has helped many businesses in our sectors survive the downturn. We’ve seen that businesses working with Semta’s National Skills Academy for Manufacturing achieve, on average, a 6:1 ratio of return on their investment, reinforcing to all companies the real value of skills development.

”We’re encouraging businesses of all sizes to speak to our specialist team. Whilst companies in Semta’s sectors have been working hard to fill their skills gaps and beat the effects of the recession, these gaps are costing the London economy millions of pounds so there is still work to be done.”

Semta’s most recent research on London skills challenges also reveals that London needs over 12,000 new recruits for the manufacturing and engineering sectors between now and 2016. Of these, 5,000 will be required to have higher level skills, including knowledge of buisness improvement techniques, leadership and mamanagement skills as well as technical knowledge is they are to support brisitish industry’s need to compete internationally.

Semta’s National Skills Academy can provide all of these skills with over 1000 courses available in subjects ranging from How to Make Presentations, through Environmental Legislation and Policy to Six Sigma. E-learning options for remote learners the cost of starts at £5 – £10.

One company in London that has already benefited from Semta’s support is bespoke retail display manufacturers, Kesslers International Ltd. Before Kesslers began working with Semta, it was experiencing difficulties in ensuring projects were run as efficiently as possible. John Anderson, Chief Executive of Kesslers International said: “Semta has made a massive difference to how we operate. Our working environment has changed, offering staff a better degree of variety and flexibility.”