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Skills shortage continues to plague industry, says EEF

Skills shortage continues to plague industry, warns EEF

A significant number of British manufacturers are struggling to find staff with the right skills, an annual survey by the EEF has revealed.

In spite of employers being more proactive about addressing skills gaps by developing links with schools and colleges, increasing investment in quality apprenticeships and pumping more money into training young people, 74% of 200 companies surveyed said they found it hard recruiting highly skilled employees. Almost half said it was their main business concern.

Tim Thomas, head of employment and skills policy at the EEF, commented: "Manufacturers are taking the initiative to ensure that skills gaps don't hold them back from their ambitions to develop new products and services and expand into new markets.

"But despite the government's best efforts, investing in apprenticeships and finding the right qualifications, training courses and provider is still far from straightforward."

Thomas said the time was right to put employers in the driving seat by giving them the power to set the standards for their industry and the scope to decide how to train their apprentices.

"We also need to raise our level of our ambition on apprenticeships and the government should target any increase in resources for apprenticeships on those lead to higher skills," he added.

As such, the EEF has called on the government to ensure young people have a better understanding of industry and career options and urged them to expand advanced and higher level apprenticeships by prioritising increases in public funding to achieve this.

John Morris, chief executive of Jam Recruitment, which carried out the research, said: "At a time of rising unemployment, we have to actively promote the opportunities in the sector to younger generations. As it stands, the government is doing too little to educate at a grass roots level about the benefits of choosing a career in manufacturing."

Laura Hopperton

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