23 Jul 2024


Roadmap aims to secure the future of UK manufacturing

Dame Judith Hackitt: Now is the time to act

Enginuity, a charity whose mission is to find new ways of closing the UK’s engineering and manufacturing skills gap, has published a roadmap aimed at securing the future of the sector. It is calling on employers, training providers, and policymakers to work together on five key priorities for building and maintaining a skilled workforce for the future.

The publication, called Enginuity Skills Action Plan for the Engineering and Manufacturing Sector – A Manifesto for Change, also offers a roadmap for the engineering and manufacturing workforce to adapt to the demands of new technologies and the transition to net-zero.

The Action Plan’s five key priorities are:
Upskilling and reskilling Identifying key transferable skills and working with educational institutions, training providers, and SMEs to support learners in attaining them, helping the sector to keep pace with change.
Attracting people to engineering and manufacturing Working to improve the sector’s image among young people and to increase diversity in recruitment, thus alleviating the estimated 173,000 shortfall in workers expected to affect the UK’s STEM sector in the coming five years.
Flexible and responsive qualification and learning systems Ensuring that training is standardised, relevant and adequately funded, giving the next generation of recruits the skills they need for the future.
A robust and cohesive evidence base Working with Enginuity to collect and use training and skills data, helping the sector to make more informed decisions and to determine the success of interventions.
Funding systems Ensuring that the Apprenticeship Levy and post-16 funding are used optimally, while improving accessibility for employers and training providers, and building a responsive, flexible and transparent funding system.

“Now is the time to act,” warns Dame Judith Hackitt, who chairs the Enginuity Group. “If we do nothing, the sector will survive, but it will fail to thrive, and we will fail in our endeavour to be a leading global player in engineering and manufacturing.

“None of us can know exactly what the future’s engineering and manufacturing jobs will look like, but we know they will be different from today’s,” she adds. “Technology has already had a sector-wide impact on systems and processes, and that’s only going to increase in the years to come.”

“The engineering and manufacturing sector is staring in the face of enormous challenges and fantastic opportunities,” adds Enginuity CEO, Ann Watson. “In order to meet them head-on, we need employers, training centres, educational institutions, and policymakers to work together. If we act now, we can prepare the existing workforce and attract a whole new generation of engineering talent.”

Enginuity describes engineering and manufacturing as “the backbone of the UK economy”, with manufacturing alone contributing £224bn GVA. It adds that the problem-solving skills of this generation of engineers will be vital in tackling the biggest challenges society faces today and in the future. But with the massive disruption caused by technology, digitisation and robotics, the sector must upskill its workforce and invest in attracting future talent.

The charity points out that the UK manufacturing sector: currently ranks 8th globally by value; employs 2.6m people; accounts for 49% of UK exports; contributes 41% of business R&D; and accounts for 16% of business investment.

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