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    An Up-Skill Battle: EEF Skills Report 2016

    Introduction by Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive, EEF:

    The year ahead will be challenging for UK manufacturers, who face a significant degree of uncertainty as to where the sector’s future growth will come from. With risks already outweighing opportunities in 2016, this report finds that manufacturers are continuing to struggle to find the right people with the right skills, and some alarm bells are beginning to ring.

    We still struggle to find a sufficient number of candidates to satisfy the demands of our sector, and too many candidates lack the skills that manufacturers need.

    Had manufacturers not already been taking action, we would arguably now be over the cliff-edge, not just approaching it. That said, while we may have arrested the pace of deterioration, we still have a long way to go. Skilled people are the lifeblood of manufacturing businesses, and without them our industry will struggle to lift itself out of a subdued period of growth.

    A combination of the new National Living Wage, the apprenticeship levy and the proposed immigration skills charge will create a large additional tax wedge and drive up the costs of employment in the UK. The challenges of finding, funding, retaining and training skilled workers are therefore all likely to increase in 2016 and beyond. While it is encouraging to see that businesses plan to continue to recruit apprentices and increase their training budgets in the coming years, my fear is that such plans may be pared back as employers feel the bite of additional costs introduced by government.

    Our report reveals a continued mismatch of skills between those the education and training system is delivering and those employers require.

    Our recommendations are all aimed at addressing this imbalance, including encouraging more Key Stage 4 leavers to undertake an apprenticeship, and rejecting calls for an immigration skills charge. We also need an integrated approach to skills, both vocational and academic, which has so far eluded the UK.

    My fear is that with the very ambitious timeline to implement the apprenticeship levy, the rafts of reforms affecting academic education, and the increasing devolution of skills nationally and regionally, skills policy will in the future become more fragmented and less effective. This must, at all costs, be prevented.


    1. Accelerate engagement with schools, colleges and universities to better articulate the skills needs of industry and to encourage young people into the industry.
    2. Benchmark salaries and wider remuneration packages not only against other manufacturers but also against wider sectors.
    3. Understand that the benefits of offering a range of flexible working arrangements, training and clear progression to employees are mutual, and can be used to attract and retain top talent.
    4. Ensure that policies and rewards packages attract and promote women in the manufacturing workplace.
    5. Design jobs and work organisation to ensure that they meet the needs of older workers. Too often, workplaces are designed for younger employees.
    6. Do not let the need for technical skills overshadow the need for leadership and management skills. See them as equally important and invest in them accordingly.

    Read the full report at:

    European Regional Development Fund Northern Powerhouse
    Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham