The manufacturing and engineering talent drought and utilisation of the apprenticeship levy

One of the most talked about realities of modern manufacturing and engineering is the shortage of skilled workers available, with severe skills shortages across the industry at an all-time high. As time goes by many skilled labourers are reaching retirement age, which lowers the number of overall skilled workers as less employees join the field. This is raising concerns about the long-term sustainability of the industry.

There are a number of issues which are causing this decline, from the perception that all manufacturing and engineering jobs involve wearing boiler suits and carrying oily rags, to the ideology that the majority of the workforce are slowly being replaced by an army of robots. This is also coupled with the image that the industry is low paying, with the majority of the work being repetitive and lacking in creativity.

Solving the talent drought is not just about attracting new entrants, but investing and buildings skills pools in areas such as AI and robotics, whilst holding onto the traditional areas of expertise which have served the industry well throughout the years. This can be achieved by creating an attractive place to work, offering new opportunities through innovation and technological advancements, and offering the training packages to students in these developments.

It has often been thought that universities would fill the skills gap, but with annual fees up to £9,250, this is not the greatest incentive, with declining numbers of students taking relevant degrees in the industry. With the government announcing the Apprenticeship Levy in the Summer Budget 2015, and taking effect on and after 6 April 2017, it is an ideal tool for manufacturers and engineers to start to bridging the skills gap.

The Apprenticeship Levy is a a Levy on all UK employers with an annual pay bill in excess of £3million. Each employer receives an allowance of up to £15,000 each year to offset against their levy payment, and in certain cases employers who are committed to training will be able to get more back than they put in. Currently the Apprenticeship Levy can help fund training in several sectors from aerospace to civil engineering, at levels from GCSE to Masters Degree.

If you would like to discuss the above blog in more detail, or you would like to speak with a member of our team, please contact Paul Locker or call 01772 821021 to be put in touch with a member of our Manufacturing team.