Plant & Works Engineering
Will skills gap put UK manufacturing growth on hold?
Published:  24 July, 2015

UK manufacturers are being invited to have their say on the effect of the engineering skills gap as part of a major industry survey, supported by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, which has been launched by MHA, the association of accountancy and business advisory firms.

The 2015 MHA Manufacturing & Engineering Survey will look at the barriers to growth – and the long term implications of failing to invest in engineering talent at every level.

“Engineering UK estimates that as a country we need either to double the number of engineering graduates we produce or take other measures, including supporting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) students and apprenticeships, in order to compete on the global stage,” says Chris Coopey, head of MHA’s manufacturing group.

“The reality is that many engineering and manufacturing businesses are finding recruitment difficult if not impossible, and not just for graduates and experienced engineers but even at apprentice level. This skills gap means a growth gap for the sector – and it will get worse the longer we fail to address the obvious.”

Assessing the effect of the skills gap on growth across the regions of the UK is one of the primary aims of the 2015 MHA Survey. The survey report, available in late September, will include analysis by the prestigious WMG - the Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick - and from Philippa Oldham, head of transport and manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The report will be used to encourage government and other public and private bodies to develop policies that meet the needs of industry.

“The rewards for encouraging many more secondary school students towards a career in engineering and manufacturing are potentially huge for the UK economy,” says Chris Coopey. “If we get the balance right and find an answer to the skills gap, we could potentially add around £27 billion a year to the UK economy from 2022 onwards.”

David Atkinson, head of SME manufacturing at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, added: “The skills gap poses a major challenge for the UK’s manufacturing and engineering sector and the issue needs to be addressed in order for manufacturers to remain competitive and at the cutting edge of the global market. There’s a clear demand for talent at all levels and if tackled successfully, resolving the skills shortage will support the sustainable growth of the industry and ensure the sector continues to play a fundamental role in rebalancing the UK economy.”

Manufacturers can contribute to the survey by going to: