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UK Manufacturers Grapple with Skill Gap Amid Reshoring Trend, In-Comm Training Barometer Reveals

by Anna

A recent report from the In-Comm Training Barometer has shed light on the challenges faced by over half of UK manufacturers when it comes to seizing the growing ‘reshoring’ trend. The study, encompassing insights from more than 100 manufacturers, has highlighted that 53% of companies feel ill-equipped in terms of skills to capitalize on reshoring opportunities.

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The report underscores the critical role of upskilling the workforce, with 25% of respondents indicating that they have successfully brought contracts back home over the past year. However, a substantial 23% are in the process of initiating reshoring strategies, while many are constrained by limitations within their current and prospective workforce.

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These findings are a testament to the current labor shortage that is impacting the industry, prompting a shift in perspective towards nurturing and cultivating talent internally. In a promising development, 82% of management teams have expressed plans to engage apprentices in the upcoming year. Their primary motivations include cultivating future talent and addressing skill gaps that have emerged.

This evolving trend reflects a departure from previous years, where only 12% attributed vocational learning investments to addressing skills shortages in 2022, compared to the current 46%. The shift indicates a broader move towards long-term strategies to overcome workforce deficiencies.

Gareth Jones, Managing Director of In-Comm Training, commented on the intricate landscape of training and skills in the industry, stating, “Engineering and manufacturing seem very buoyant… but also paints a picture of a sector that is massively hamstrung by a lack of skills.” Jones highlighted that the Brexit aftermath and the pandemic have compounded this issue, while the job market has swung in favor of candidates rather than employers.

The study revealed that while concerns about retirement exacerbating skill shortages persist, the number of companies planning to enhance the skills of their current workforce is only at 55%. This figure is notably lower than expected given the dearth of readily available solutions and the advantages of adaptable upskilling courses that minimize production disruptions.

Jones advocated for a shift in mindset among some owner-managed companies that have yet to embrace growth and succession planning. He emphasized the need for more modular, shorter courses to cater to the demands of modern manufacturers and recommended a revisit to the broader training framework of the past.

Furthermore, the rise of Industry 4.0 and Digital Manufacturing has necessitated a fresh set of skills, as indicated by 48% and 54% of respondents respectively. Electrification has remained relatively constant, hovering around 20%. This shift towards digital transformation reflects manufacturers’ increasing involvement in data capture and technology projects, demanding an immediate skill infusion to support these initiatives.

The insights gleaned from the In-Comm Training Barometer are poised to inform industry stakeholders, technical partners, and governmental bodies about the imperative need for enhanced skills funding. These findings will likely drive the creation of more flexible, modular training programs, even outside conventional work hours, to better equip the workforce for the industry’s evolving landscape.

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