Skills Shortages Still a Concern for UK Economy

17 June 2024

Though the country’s manufacturing output is growing and companies are hopeful for longer term prosperity, there seems to be a sizeable fly stuck in the ointment - namely access to adequate numbers of trained engineering staff.

Make UK’s latest Manufacturing Outlook Survey is very optimistic, stating that business confidence is currently at its highest level in years. Nevertheless, an acute skill sparsity needs to be addressed, with the recruitment intentions of the companies surveyed ramping up from 8% last quarter to 26% now. Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that there are currently 64,000 vacancies in the manufacturing sector. Make UK calculates that this is costing the country £6 billion in lost production output. 

“At long last, manufacturers can see concrete signs of growth and a much better economic outlook ahead. With prices cooling and, potential cuts in interest rates to come, the next Government must capitalise on this scenario by delivering a modern, long term industrial strategy which goes beyond the 2030s and has cross Government support. This must be supported by a revolution in skills, a shortage of which is the biggest factor affecting not just companies’ growth prospects but, in many cases, their ability to maintain daily operations and fulfil contracts.” states James Brougham, Senior Economist at Make UK. “This must now be a national endeavour and begin with a fundamental review of the apprentice levy and wider vocational training system.”

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