Manufacturing vs. The 'Skill Gap'

5-7 minutes

Due to the pandemic, professional setbacks have rippled across all sectors; social conventi...


Due to the pandemic, professional setbacks have rippled across all sectors; social conventions & workplace policies have drastically evolved out of necessity, though manufacturing, in particular, has been struggling well before the pandemic hit.

Presently, the future of this sector remains uncertain as the skill gap continues to grow; although Industry 4.0 brought a wave of cutting-edge products, technology alone can’t sustain future growth. Overall, finding individuals with the right skill set to harness these new technologies is the problem.

Brexit negotiations & the recession were contributing factors to the decline, though one of its biggest issues (to this day) is its image problem. Suffering numerous misconceptions about work culture, financial incentives & career progression, and manufacturing struggles to appeal to the younger more ambitious workforce.

Millennials & Gen-Z perceive that a pathway in this sector will lack creative stimulation & fewer opportunities. Although this is not the case, enticing the best & brightest will present difficulties when they believe achieving their professional goals to be impossible.

So the question is ‘How can we attract & retain new talents?‘. Although there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution, offering unique incentives & development opportunities to your employees (potential of otherwise) can make your business stand out, build long-term loyalty & minimise your staff turnover. Engage more with your workforce by getting them hyped about your company’s overall objectives & contributions. Regardless of sector, the purpose is a universal motivator that can drive professional growth for both your company & staff.

By exhibiting at expo events, many companies are able to market their business model to the younger generations & stamp out those misconceptions. Visitors are given more insight into the industry, while employers have a chance to attract new enthusiastic workers.

Currently facing the largest shortage of skilled workers in over 30 years, evolving with the times has become more important than ever. Back in 2018, an alarming 81% of UK manufacturers admitted how hard it was to fill vacancies with qualified workers. In a report released in 2019, David Fagan from the Engineering Employers Federation states: “Currently 40% of manufacturers say 40% of their workforce is above the age of 50”

Another consideration is that older workers are retiring before newer workers enter the industry, meaning that the opportunity to impart years of industry knowledge is missed.

Something that may help bridge the generational divide would be to bring more of a spotlight on industry & technological innovations. Numerous reports have given us a breakdown of the demographic you need to target; now is the time to cater more material about what this industry can offer them.

Additionally, academia has a huge opportunity to ignite interest in manufacturing & engineering by introducing these subjects into the curriculum; this will give students the insight they need, while gradually modernising their perceptions of the sector.

If implemented, approaches like these will aid in gradually closing the skill gap for the years to come.

If you require support in sourcing a quality workforce, we are able to offer a range of flexible services & highly effective operating models to accommodate your business, this includes supplying temporary, contract & permanent staff.

Our Managed Services model operates as a true collaboration with the client, where cost reduction & operational efficiency are key priorities whilst ensuring a First Class service is delivered on time, always providing a real return on investment in us as your recruitment partner.