Autumn Statement 2014 series: Put skills at the top of manufacturing agenda

I have discussed in a number of recent blog posts how the skills gap is still a major concern in the manufacturing and engineering sector.


While there has been some collaboration between some of the big companies, notably Siemens and Renault, and the education sector, I would like to see more incentives for smaller manufacturing and engineering businesses to engage with their local schools and colleges.


The creation of University Technical Colleges (UTCs) for 14-19-year-olds, led by universities and funded in part by large manufacturers, is a step in the right direction for equipping people in education with the right vocational skills they need to secure employment in industries such as manufacturing.


In our recent MHA manufacturing report we called for greater steps towards ‘demand-led’ education and I would like to see the chancellor pledge further financial support to encourage more initiatives of this kind.


Elsewhere, energy costs are a significant concern to manufacturing businesses and some sort of control needs to be gained over the constant price rises businesses are seeing. Whether this would be through some form of tax rebate or other payment for the most productive manufacturers I’m not sure, but something has to be done.


I fear that all the good news around re-shoring and making the UK a competitive place to manufacture will be lost if these rises are allowed to continue to erode margins.


Ginni Cooper is head of the manufacturing and engineering team at Moore and Smalley.