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'Engineering Apprenticeships Best Practice Programme' launched

17 May 2021

In a first for the UK manufacturing and engineering industry, Next Gen Makers has launched the Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme – an initiative designed to support firms overcome skills challenges and build talent for future success.

Equipping manufacturers with the tools they need to better plan for, attract and retain apprentices, the Programme provides a host of resources to enable engineering and manufacturing firms of all sizes to replicate proven methods adopted by other businesses that have successfully run Apprenticeship schemes for some time. Resources include an expansive online video library containing video interviews with a variety of manufacturers successfully running apprenticeship schemes, a toolkit containing ‘how to’ guides and quarterly virtual peer-to-peer meetups to enable ideas sharing and problem solving. 

Built around the sharing of best practice, the programme allows manufacturers to learn from each other and discover proven techniques to bridge their skills gaps, ensuring they have the talent needed to underpin enhanced productivity, innovation, profitability and growth.

The launch of the Best Practice Programme comes at a time when the industry is facing some of its biggest challenges to date. According to government studies, within five years, 20% of the existing workforce is set to retire, and to compound that issue, it is estimated that, each year, the industry is short by as many as 186,000 young engineers that it needs to join this contracting talent pool. As a result, the window for building a strong and capable workforce is narrowing, and the skills gap widening.

Adam Tipper, Managing Director of Next Gen Makers, commented: “For too long, the only answer to closing the engineering skills gap has been to encourage more youngsters into the industry, or to change its perception entirely. From our work doing this in recent years, we have found that to be only one part of the solution, with retention of young engineers within the industry being a much greater issue. Our research shows that, on average, just two out of five apprentices are successfully retained and we believe this is down to manufacturers’ ability and confidence to run successful apprenticeship schemes.

“Interestingly, some manufacturers don’t recognise the skills gap at all. These are the companies that really understand why they need to future proof skills within their workforce and how doing so contributes to them achieving business goals. Such manufacturers have successfully implemented apprenticeship programmes and are embracing a pro-apprenticeship culture within their businesses. We’ve worked with these successful businesses and learned their ways and, through our Best Practice Programme, we’re bringing business leaders together to share a blueprint consisting of proven ways of attracting and retaining young talent for the long-term.”

To develop the Engineering Best Practice Programme, Next Gen Makers has worked with its Principle Partners, MSC Industrial Supply Co. UK, who is committed to supporting its customers drive efficiency, effectiveness and competitiveness.

Dave Darby, Managing Director of MSC, said: “In our work with more than 20,000 manufacturing firms, we’re seeing an acceleration in plans to take on apprentices. Not only is this a cost-effective way of addressing the skills shortage, but also an approach which sees increased energy and enthusiasm amongst the workforce which helps to drive business performance. Helping apprentices to take their first steps in a rewarding career and receive the training needed to develop new skills, will allow them – and the industry – to grow.

“The work of Next Gen Makers in facilitating this is outstanding and we’re proud to be supporting the launch of their ground-breaking Best Practice Programme.”

To discover more about the Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme, visit

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