A new survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has revealed that 85% of manufacturing businesses industry have reported persistent challenges when recruiting, with 73% facing difficulties finding skilled manual/technical workers.
The survey indicates that British businesses are facing the highest level of recruitment difficulties, amid the widespread skills shortages and talent crisis which is seeing severe repercussions on the industry sector’s output and profitability as a whole.
MSP’s new White Paper on Women in Manufacturing is seeking to underline how apprenticeships are an opportunity to tackle the skills shortage, yet current apprenticeship frameworks are failing to attract and retain talent, particularly for female starts.
Leigh Cresswell, Operations Manager at MSP, says, ”Apprenticeships in the manufacturing industry are a fantastic way of entry into the sector, offering an extensive range of opportunities for people looking to gain key industry skills and become accredited within the industry.”
“Apprenticeships are also an excellent route for women to enter the sector, and will be vital in the long term for helping to address the key skills shortages and enable employers to upskill in core areas of the business.”
Despite this, MSP’s White Paper has found that apprenticeship starts in employers of all sizes are still below pre-pandemic levels, markedly in medium employers which remain 34% lower. Of that, in the 2020/2021 period, females accounted for only 15% of starts in STEM apprenticeships.
These statistics underline how present apprenticeship frameworks may be failing to attract crucial talent, even as 86% of employers stated that apprenticeships have helped them to cultivate relevant skills for their organisations.
Increasingly, manufacturing businesses have been calling for the urgent reform of the apprenticeship levy, as the current apprenticeship levy is preventing businesses from addressing key skills gaps by transferring money away from vital training opportunities and restricting spending to specific types of training.
While changes to the levy may help the industry in the long term, MSP are advising businesses on what they can do to address the industry’s failure to encourage female talent.
Leigh comments, “It’s obvious that the current broad-based programs in place are not effectively encouraging the right people, nor are they creating accessible opportunities for women in the industry.”
“Manufacturers need to increasingly be looking to attract talent by ensuring that they are creating supportive and inclusive environments and addressing the extreme under-representation and gender divide within the industry.” “This includes offering clear career pathways and increasing the visibility and investment of apprenticeship opportunities for women. While this may be a longer-term solution, overcoming the barriers that are discouraging women and young girls from entering into the sector is essential for the future of the industry as a whole.”
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