Skills shortage is top risk facing manufacturers

Tom Morgan

New statistics, taken from a manufacturing industry survey by audit, tax and consulting firm RSM, show that recruiting and retaining talent is a top risk for the sector.

According to the results in RSM’s UK Manufacturing Monitor, almost half of the respondents confirmed people risks (49 per cent) and skills shortages (43 per cent) are a major challenge impacting manufacturers. All areas of the business are affected, particularly attracting the right production; sales and marketing; and research and development skills.

This issue is magnified due to the ageing workforce within the sector, with 75% of respondents flagging this as a key concern. The average age of manufacturing staff has increased as many organisations struggle to recruit younger workers, highlighting a long-term challenge for manufacturers.

Despite the critical need to attract younger workers with future-fit skills, 63% of manufacturers didn’t think the new Apprenticeship Levy, introduced by the government in April 2017, would have an impact on apprenticeship numbers.

Commenting on the findings, Tom Morgan, RSM’s head of manufacturing in the South, said: “The sector is facing a perfect storm when it comes to skills. It has an ageing workforce of experienced workers who are vital to the ongoing success of each business but a difficultly attracting younger talent – highlighting a major gap in the transfer of knowledge. Unless action is taken now, the skills could effectively be lost.

“In addition, Brexit will only increase recruitment and retention threats as any changes to freedom of movement rules following exit negotiations could reduce the supply of young, trained workers further. To tackle this issue head on, manufacturers need to be brave and adopt new ways to recruit top talent, whilst engaging their workforce to ensure they retain them.”