News of rising manufacturing figures highlights skills shortage

Published: 27 January 2014

The news that car manufacturing in the UK has hit a six-year high of 1.5m vehicles, and that engineering firm Dyson plans to hire 3,000 engineers by 2015, has once again brought the issue of skill shortages in the UK’s manufacturing and engineering sectors to the force.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the trade body for the UK automotive industry, agrees that a scarcity of talent is a concern, telling The Recruiter Magazine in a recent interview: “There is a shortage of skilled engineers, particularly those with the knowledge and expertise relating to new and emerging technologies.”

While a spokesperson for Nissan, which this week said that recent hiring at its Sunderland plant had taken the number of employees there to over 7,000 for the first time, said: “We are aware of worries across the engineering industries of a looming skills shortage due to the age profile of the current workforce and proposed investments and growth in the sector.”

“For a company like Nissan this isn’t such a big issue as we are big enough to attract the people we require," adds the spokesperson. "However, we are taking a lead on behalf of the industry in raising this issue with government and encouraging other companies to invest in skills.”

All of which in the long term is a positive and quite possibly the correct and sustainable solution. However what about the short term and the here and now??

As confidence continues to rise across most sectors, and in particular across the manufacturing sector in the UK against a backdrop of falling unemployment, growing order books and consumer demand, doesn’t this once again specifically highlight the already existing skills shortages?? Not to mention what is to come as once again the term ‘War for Talent’ begins to become prevalent and employers and recruiters alike have to work harder to hire high calibre individuals.

Increasingly therefore employers and recruiters alike will need to be ever more creative, proactive and imaginative in their candidate attraction strategies. Having to work hard to identify, source and ultimately engage talented individuals.

Simon Walton is a Partner and Head of the Consumer & Retail Practice at Berwick Partners

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