UK Metal Industry Prioritizes Upskilling as Survey Reveals Training Divide

by Anna

New research from SAIT Abrasives has shed light on the priorities and challenges facing the UK metal industry, with a particular focus on upskilling and training needs in the sector. According to the survey, almost half (47%) of professionals working in the UK metal industry consider investing in upskilling as a top priority for their businesses over the next 12 months.

SAIT Abrasives, a specialist manufacturer of rigid and flexible abrasives for industrial use, conducted this research to gain insights into the state of training within the metal industry as part of its latest training initiatives.


The survey findings indicate that in the coming year, more than half (53%) of businesses operating in the metal industry will be allocating resources for ongoing training, while just under half (40%) plan to access direct training from suppliers.


Remarkably, over half of the survey respondents (52%) believe that their organizations already provide adequate training to equip newcomers with the skills required for efficient job performance. Additionally, nearly two-fifths (37%) reported that their companies employ apprentices.


Despite these positive indicators, concerns linger within the industry. A notable 43% of respondents expressed apprehension that the sector, as a whole, is not doing enough to train new entrants to the workforce. Furthermore, half (51%) felt that their organizations could play a more substantial role in addressing the industry’s skills gap.


Chris Ingman, Managing Director at SAIT Abrasives, commented on the findings, saying, “Our research highlights a divide within the industry between those who prioritize training and upskilling and those who are concerned about the industry’s efforts to bridge the skills gap.”

Ingman, who began his career as an apprentice, stressed the importance of apprenticeships as a crucial pathway into the industry and called for more opportunities to be made available to those considering a future career in the sector.

The survey also revealed that 40% of companies are planning to turn to suppliers for training resources in the upcoming year. This finding raises eyebrows, as 60% of businesses in the sector are not tapping into this readily available resource.

Chris continued, “Our training sessions for end-users have demonstrated significant success in optimizing the use of our products, resulting in increased workplace productivity. Inquiring about training offerings from suppliers is a straightforward method to enhance training and support current employees.”

Andy Mills, Managing Director at Fein UK, a power tools specialist collaborating with SAIT to provide surface finishing solutions to the metalworking industry, added his perspective: “Suppliers have room to cooperate on training initiatives that can maximize opportunities for end-users seeking to upskill their workforce. Collaborative efforts across the supply chain can enhance efficiencies in core processes, benefiting businesses and their employees.”

In addition, more than half (53%) of the respondents indicated that the training provided by their organizations is one of the reasons they enjoy their jobs, while a third (32%) stated that their company’s commitment to investing in training makes them feel valued by their employers.

In conclusion, Chris emphasized, “These statistics underscore the challenges faced by young talent seeking to enter the industry. While there are commendable training programs already in place, more must be done to encourage young individuals to join the sector. Failure to do so could result in the industry struggling to keep pace with demand. It is crucial for businesses to heed the voices of current employees who recognize the value of training and leverage this insight to address the sector’s most pressing challenge: the skills gap.”

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