Employee engagement: managing your workforce through 4IR and the Skills Gap

Kronos report Cover (1)

Government to blame for skills shortage, TM Survey shows

Research by The Manufacturer into the impact of Industry 4.0 on the sector’s workforce demonstrates companies have completely lost faith in the UK state’s ability to educate and train young people for work.

Produced in association with the global workforce management company Kronos, the research found that while over 50% of businesses say they are in urgent need of skilled staff, particularly engineers, and with over 40% saying they need apprentices, the overwhelming majority say they are very unlikely to find them coming out of the secondary, further and higher education sectors.

“The education system is failing manufacturers, and not just in terms of the curriculum that it delivers,” one manufacturer is quoted as saying in the report. “Schools’ careers advice services have been whittled back to the point where it is often class teachers who are delivering advice instead – and they are not close enough to manufacturing and engineering to provide sensible advice, and instead deter school leavers from engineering and manufacturing careers, based on out-of-touch prejudices.”

The report supports evidence that companies are increasingly taking responsibility for educating young people in technical and engineering skills themselves.

The crisis in skills – worst-case estimates suggest there will be a shortfall of 1m engineers in the UK by 2025 – places a high premium on attracting the best staff, and hanging onto them. UK manufacturers appear to be developing the necessary recruitment and retention strategies, with opportunities for career progression, in-job training and academic opportunities proving the most popular, even more so than better pay.

The report concludes that companies must focus with laser precision on improving employee engagement, which means adapting work processes and schedules to meet the greater flexibility the new generation of employees entering the workforce expects. Over 75% of employers said they would do so, but said they also expected those employees to understand that business has its own demands too.

“It’s very positive that so many manufacturers were prepared to adapt their organisation to meet millennials’ expectations,” sums up Guillaume Varlet, Industry Marketing Manager EMEA at Kronos. “It shows that manufacturers are aware that the world is changing, and that younger employees have different expectations from older ones and see the world through different eyes.”

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