Repeated surveys show that some 80% of UK manufacturers struggle to recruit the talent they need to continue competing in the global marketplace, anticipating an increase in recruitment pressures linked to the pace of technological change.
This is not because of a lack of UK expertise in technological development. Instead, it shows that workforce development is key to building on the work of our world-class research and anchoring manufacturing success in all regions of the country.
Launched last January in partnership with the Gatsby Foundation, the HVM Catapult’s Manufacturing the Future Workforce report made that point.
We warned that without change, the UK’s approach to workforce development would fail to deliver the skilled workers essential to meeting the needs of industry.
As the UK recovers from the effects of the pandemic with a need to ‘Build Back Better’, our recommendations have become even more relevant. The new national economy needs a proactive and well-connected skills system that can adapt to the changing needs of an ever more agile and responsive workforce, creating opportunities for talent at all ages and resilience in UK supply chains.
A year after our report launched, the government announced its Skills for Jobs White Paper which set out plans to transform the future of further and technical education in England. Their plans included looking at how to support more people to study flexibly and to gain the skills that employers need in the future.
To support them in achieving this, the Department for Education appointed the HVM Catapult to build on our recommendations and lead an exciting new project to help address future skills gaps in key sectors such as manufacturing and engineering.
The Skills Value Chain
The Emerging Skills Project will pilot our Skills Value Chain approach across key regions in the UK. Working closely with Institutes of Technology, we will develop high-quality modular training courses focused on upskilling employees for work with new and emerging technologies, like robotics and AI, electrification, additive manufacturing and advanced composites. We will also be designing detailed content for ‘training the trainer’, allowing the courses to be more widely disseminated.
The Skills Value Chain (graphic below) is an approach that connects workforce development with the wider innovation ecosystem, leveraging the technological know-how of Centres of Innovation to build an industrial skills base fit for the future. With continuing support from the Gatsby Foundation, we have been able to develop this approach and prove our foresighting processes work (see below). Joined by a wide collaboration of employers, universities and colleges, we can now use this knowledge of future skills needs to co-ordinate the modular content needed to bring these learnings into the workplace.
Running until late 2021, this pilot project is a first step in our journey to a more skilled workforce. We are also working with the employer-led engineering skills body Enginuity to maximise industry engagement with the project and its subsequent emerging skills courses. We are particularly keen for SMEs to take part.
Now is the time for you to get involved. Whether you’re keen to help identify the sector’s future skills needs or are looking to take places on the pilot courses there are many ways to work with us. To register your interest in upcoming opportunities, please visit the HVM Catapult website.
What is foresighting?
Foresighting is a process of assembling experts across relevant groups to identify the likely ‘future-state’ of skills needs in a sector or economy. The HVM Catapult convened participants from Centres of Innovation and technology development, further and higher education providers and employers to contribute their expertise to the process. Their specialist understanding of the effect of technology challenges on future organisational requirements and the related skill needs helps determine the place in which our workforce needs to be.
This ‘future-state’ need can then be compared with ‘current-state’ of education and training provision to highlight both matches and gaps that need action. Key to filling the gaps is identifying the learner groups that will require these future skills and which parts of the existing adult workforce they will be drawn from. This focus encourages the use of incremental and modular training interventions, which may then be adopted by apprenticeship standards or undergraduate courses alongside lifelong learning.
Institutes of Technology (IoTs)
Backed by £170m of government investment, each IoT is a unique collaboration between further education colleges, universities and local employers. IoTs offer higher technical STEM education and training (mainly at Levels 4 and 5) in key sectors such as digital, construction, advanced manufacturing and engineering. They will be uniquely placed to deliver the courses we develop, enabling UK businesses – large and small – to ensure their workforce is able to better exploit emerging technologies.
In the first wave, 12 Institutes of Technology were established around the country, each with one or more specialisms such as advanced manufacturing, engineering, digital and construction. The second wave of the IoT competition opened in September 2020, with an additional eight IoTs expected to be added to the programme, bringing the total to 20 across England by 2023.
The Faraday Institution
The rapid transition of the automotive sector to produce electric vehicles will create competency gaps at all levels, with the greatest need in engineering and manufacturing roles. Running in parallel with the Emerging Skills Project, the Faraday Institution commissioned WMG and the HVM Catapult to develop a solution that ensures a commonality of skills required and a consistency of training provision throughout the UK so that employees have the right skill sets during this transition to electric. Key input from automotive manufacturers and curriculum providers has validated both job requirements and the current state of training provision compared with emerging need.
Launching in 2021, this publicly available National Framework will enable skills providers across the UK to operate on a level-playing field to provide the best possible solutions to industry. The end goal? Ensuring high quality training can be replicated and delivered to meet regional and national skills demand at the time and place of need.
All images provided by High Value Manufacturing Catapult