Young people lack the work ethic to succeed in industry, poll claims

A survey commissioned by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMecE) has revealed almost 40% of manufacturing firms feel apprentices, graduates and new recruits don’t have the work ethic to succeed in industry.

In a survey of 1,000 British manufacturers which formed part of the institute’s Manufacturing a Successful Economy 2013 report, it found 57% also believe that apprentices, graduates and new recruits are lacking in practical skills.

Forty two per cent felt their young staff lacked communication skills, while in terms of relevant subjects, 45% of the manufacturers polled said that design skills posed an issue with young recruits, while 36% said good maths and science.


The Manufacturer is hosting The Future Factory: The Flexible Workforce conference on July 16 in Birmingham. The conference will provide the opportunity for manufacturing leaders to come together and discuss employee engagement and empowerment, workforce planning and strategy and maintaining a talent pipeline to safeguard the future workforce.

The poll also shows manufacturing firms are still finding it hard to recruit at all levels, despite high unemployment figures.

60% of manufacturers polled said they were finding it difficult to recruit design engineers, 39% said they have difficulty recruiting people with skills in production and 36% said they were struggling to find new product specialists.

Additionally, 28% are sending manufacturing work abroad – compared to the 20% which are ‘reshoring’ it to UK.

Of these companies, 49% cited maintaining unit costs, 33% blamed shipping costs and 21% said energy costs were behind their decisions.

More than 60% of manufacturers say uncertainty surrounding the UK’s EU future is negatively impacting manufacturing, an increase of 7% from 2012.

Philippa Oldham, head of manufacturing at the IMechE, said: “Having a good work ethic along with good skills in maths and science is fundamental to success in manufacturing so it is hugely concerning that so many manufacturers have highlighted this as an issue.

“UK manufacturers are nervous, as these figures clearly show. The UK remains in the economic doldrums and has seen next to no growth since our 2012 survey,” she said, adding the manufacturing and engineering remains the best way to aid a strong economic model over the coming decades.

Miss Oldham also believes the survey results give a warning to the UK of the need for manufacturers to produce products for new markets and increase exports to developing nations.

“Government must gain cross-party support on a long-term industrial strategy which engages with industry and addresses the engineering skills shortage, invests in new process and business model development and provides greater access to sufficient capital investment for companies to develop new products and manufacturing processes,” she said.

The independent poll was completed in March 2013, with MSS Research surveying 1,000 members of the Institution currently working in the manufacturing sector.

The report also includes a survey of over 1,000 members of the public conducted by ICM Research on behalf of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on 26-28 April 2013.

For more information, visit www.imeche.org