Manufacturing & Engineering Skills Shortage
17 May 2017
Within any industry, there can often be times where the demand for skilled and available workers outweighs the supply. The Scottish Manufacturing and Engineering sectors are experiencing something similar at this moment in time.
It is an industry that is top heavy with experienced workers approaching retirement age followed by apprentices and newly qualified staff coming through at the lower end of the market. The gap forms in the middle of these two career stages. This could pose a real problem, since the industry is currently being encouraged to innovate with new technologies and increase exports.
There is also an issue, as my colleague Martine reported, that companies either insist upon candidates having degrees or time served experience. There is no happy medium. This is a regressive attitude to take when approaching employment which will seriously damage an industry already lacking in available talent.
Within Manufacturing and Engineering, many successful candidates have come through ‘time served’ apprenticeships where they will have enhanced their skills through part-time college courses and additional training.
Because of their hands-on experience, they won’t necessarily need extra training when they start a new job and they are far less likely to slow down your productivity. They are used to keeping up with demand and performing tasks on time. This is essential within the maintenance engineering sector – as businesses cannot afford to stop production in order to carry out repairs.
But there are not enough of these apprenticeships pulling through in to the current workforce.
According to a survey conducted by PwC, employers can’t even agree as to why there is such a skills shortage in the market. The consulting company surveyed 120 manufacturers concerning how advanced technology is affecting the workplace.
Their results could be broken down into three main categories:
- Perspective about skills shortages aren’t uniform. PwC said 33% of those surveyed reported little or no difficulty hiring workers to operate advanced technology, while 44% have “moderate difficulty.”
- Concern about the future varies. According to PwC, 31% don’t see a manufacturing skills shortage now but expect one in the next three years. Another 26% say the shortage has already peaked. And 29% say there’s a shortage now and it will get worse in the next three years.
- New technology isn’t expected to kill manufacturing jobs. PwC said 37% of those surveyed say technology will boost hiring while 45% said there will be no impact on hiring. Only 17% said technology will cut hiring.
This would suggest that businesses within the industry will have to up their efforts in creating ‘talent pipelines’ – candidates who are ready and available to fill positions at all levels as a company grows. As new technologies develop, there will be an increasing need for different sets of skills in order to be successful within the industry.
This is not to say that A.I. will take over and the human element of the industry will disappear. Rather, these machines will need maintenance and technological updates – tasks performed by highly skilled candidates.
The most important thing is that, in order to meet these skills and technological challenges, businesses ensure that they source the very best talent to suit their needs. This may mean considering candidates they would not normally put forward for interviews
The industry is changing – but I can help you with that. If you’d like to discuss your recruitment needs with me, I’d love to have a chat. Click here to see my details and we can speak confidentially about sourcing excellent candidates for your business.
Written By Stephanie Devine