Recruitment crunch poses new threat to closing the skills gap

Recruitment crunch

Recruitment crunch poses new threat to closing the skills gap

It’s still too early to fully understand the impact of Brexit impact on manufacturing, but the EEF has recently raised an important point about recruiting workers.

Tim Thomas, Director of Employment and Skills at the organisation, claims: “Preventing industry from being able to recruit the best skilled workers from the EU could stifle growth, damage British industry and the UK economy as a whole.”

The figures certainly suggest that recruiting and retaining skilled workers is becoming even more difficult. Since Brexit, applications from European workers have dropped by a quarter. Furthermore, businesses have seen a 16% rise in the number of EU workers leaving their employment.

Considering how one-third of UK manufacturers already turn to workers from abroad due to the skills gap, these new figures come as grim reading.

Despite the concerning undertone, there is a positive way of looking at this. Being faced with the issue of declining applications and falling retention statistics emphasises the importance of investing in apprentices and trainees.

The EEF has urged that skilled European workers should have the right to work in the UK for up to five years and then apply for permanent residency. While this would be a major win for manufacturing if it happens, the UK must prepare for the worst.

One way of doing this is for manufacturers who are not yet doing so to provide high quality training in-house, through apprenticeships and graduate trainee programmes. This is, generally, a longer term investment, but one which will pay dividends for years to come.

Don’t underestimate how quickly they begin to contribute though. In our apprentice training school, for example, we integrate apprentices into our team early on, giving them real projects to be working on to hone their skills. So, while you may think that they won’t contribute to our business until their training concludes, you’d be wrong.

We recently expanded our training school to eight places. The new recruits will be starting with us next month and we can’t wait to get under way. We’ll be sharing the high and lows of their experiences over the next year via our website and social media channels – we hope our colleagues in the manufacturing industry will follow their progress to see for themselves how valuable their hard work and input can be.