Taking on apprentices and recruiting graduates are both great ways of addressing the skills shortage in engineering and manufacturing but UK companies need to do more, according to Semta chief executive Sarah Sillars. Employers also have to invest in improving the skills of existing employees and help spread the word about the excellent career opportunities available in the sector, Sillars was quoted as saying by The Journal.
Since it is exam season, our attention is focused on how young Britons are doing and what their future plans involve. Sillars urged those graduating in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects to think about an engineering or advanced manufacturing career. She noted that there were amazing opportunities for young people considering further education but prospects in the sector were also fantastic for those with no university plans. Boys and girls with five GCSEs (among them maths and science) can lay the foundations of a great career by opting for an apprenticeship. This will allow them to earn money, learn on the job and pave the way to excellent long-term prospects.
Sillars went on to add that Semta’s research painted a bleak picture for the future engineering and manufacturing talent base. By 2017 the sector will lose 8,500 employees to retirement and 15,000 need to improve their skills. According to the 2013 Harvey Nash Manufacturing Leadership survey, 62% of executives consider their companies woefully short of skills. Not only can apprentices help close the gap but they also tend to make more loyal employees, Sillars noted, citing a study by the National Apprenticeship Service. According to that research, 74% of employers believe apprentices to be more loyal than non-apprentices. In addition, 92% stated that their training programmes improved staff motivation and boosted job satisfaction levels.