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The skills gaps in the manufacturing sector are entrenched, well-documented and seemingly intractable. Equally, they should be underestimated. After endless chops and changes in government policy – an apprenticeship levy, new grading for GCSEs, T-Levels as an alternative to A-levels to name but a few, little seems to have changed.

Our sector is still short of 59,000 engineering graduates and technicians each year, despite having close to 130,000 apprenticeship starts  across the UK in academic year 2015/16. Starts which are incidentally falling since the apprenticeship levy was introduced.

Simply tapping into the same talent pools has failed to fill the skills gaps historically is not going to produce the talents workers needed now, and increasingly manufacturers need to think outside the traditional talent box and find new ways to find the people and skills which seem so elusive.

Make UK’s national manufacturing conference on 25 February 2020 will lay the platform for manufacturers to do just this. Around 80% of the people that UK manufacturers need to train are already in the workforce.

Inventively doing more with the current stock of skills, as well as adding to the stock, is key to bridging skills gaps, particularly at a time when the numbers of EU workers coming to the UK is tailing off  -  growing your own talent will become more important than ever.

For a variety of reasons, we will all be working longer, and retaining workers longer, and adding to their skills, is another key component that the manufacturing conference will unpick. 

With just 8% of young apprentices being girls, and only 16% of engineering places at University being filled by women, there is a need to show off the best that manufacturing careers can offer – from working with exciting new technology, to creative design roles, our sector offers flexible and rewarding opportunities that are often more associated with IT and the creative industries. The conference will provide insight on where and how to look for talent that may already be right in front of UK manufacturers.

Make UK will be holding workshops on Tackling the Talent Pipeline at the National Manufacturing Conference in London.

Key take aways from the event will be: 

  • Find the untapped labour markets.
  • Get more skilled workers for the same/less amount of effort.
  • Rebooting the skills of your mid career workers.
  • Regulate retirement by tackling the tricky questions and transferring knowledge
Many manufacturers see plugging the skills gap as an impossible task, having tried and failed many times to find the talent they need due to the lack of good quality apprenticeships. But there are many new and different ways to tackle old problems. Many parts of the local labour market are too often over-looked and manufacturers now need to find a modern and fresh approach to an age-old challenge.
Andrea Rodney Director, Hone All Precision Ltd

Tickets for the National Manufacturing Conference can be purchased at

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