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Poll reveals lack of skills and work ethic among young recruits

24 May 2013

Almost 40 percent of manufacturing firms say apprentices, graduates and new recruits don’t have the work ethic to succeed in industry.

In a survey of 1,000 British manufacturers – part of the Institution of Mechanical Engineer's Manufacturing a Successful Economy 2013 report – manufacturers also said that as many as 57 percent of apprentices, graduates and new recruits lack practical skills, while 42 percent said they lacked communication skills.

Some 45 percent of the manufacturers polled said that design skills posed an issue with young recruits, while 36 percent said good maths and science.

The poll reveals manufacturing firms are still finding it hard to recruit at all levels, despite high unemployment figures. Of the manufacturers polled, 60 percent said that they were finding it difficult to recruit design engineers, 39 percent said they have difficulty recruiting people with skills in production and 36 percent said they were struggling to find new product specialists.

Additionally, 28 percent are sending manufacturing work abroad – compared to the 20 percent which are ‘reshoring’ it to UK. Of these companies, 49 percent cited maintaining unit costs, 33 percent blamed shipping costs and 21 percent said energy costs were behind their decisions.

And more than 60 percent of manufacturers say uncertainty surrounding the UK’s EU future is negatively impacting manufacturing – up from 53 percent in 2012.

Philippa Oldham, head of manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “Having a good work ethic along with good skills in maths and science is fundamental to success in manufacturing so it is hugely concerning that so many manufacturers have highlighted this as an issue.

“UK manufacturers are nervous, as these figures clearly show. The UK remains in the economic doldrums and has seen next to no growth since our 2012 survey.

 “Manufacturing and engineering remains the best way to help create and build a stronger economic model for the UK over the coming decades.

“There have been lots of reports about UK manufacturers 're-shoring' (bring manufacturing back) but our survey shows that more UK companies are ‘off-shoring’ their manufacturing. This shows that government needs to do more to reinforce the technical and economic benefits of localised manufacturing.

“These survey results give a real warning to the UK if we are to be internationally competitive and help rebalance our economy we need manufacturers to be producing products for new markets and to increase our exports to developing nations.

“Government must gain cross-party support on a long-term industrial strategy which engages with industry and addresses the engineering skills shortage, invests in new process and business model development and provides greater access to sufficient capital investment for companies to develop new products and manufacturing processes.”

The independent poll, commissioned by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, was completed in March 2013. MSS Research surveyed 1,000 members of the Institution currently working in the manufacturing sector. The report also includes a survey of over 1,000 members of the public conducted by ICM Research on behalf of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on 26-28 April 2013.

The survey the Institution’s Manufacturing a Successful Economy report, is an annual barometer of the Government’s performance and the health of the manufacturing sector.

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