BofS and Henderson Loggie ask: Will skills gap put manufacturing growth on hold?



Hazel Pratt
Hazel Pratt

Scottish 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 Bank of Scotland and launched by Henderson Loggie and the other firms which form 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.

Hazel Pratt, head of Henderson Loggie’s manufacturing group said: “Engineering UK estimates that 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.”

“Many engineering and manufacturing companies 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 shortfall.”

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, which will be 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 huge,” says Hazel Pratt. “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.”

Andrew Stark, senior manager manufacturing, SME banking, Bank of Scotland, adds: “The skills gap poses a major challenge for both Scotland and 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 requirement 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 our economy.”

Manufacturers can contribute to the survey by going to:https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/75L8XGP