‘Savage’ shortage of skilled UK workers to hit manufacturers

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The number of manufacturing jobs is set to grow by 210,000 by 2025

Manufacturers in the UK will face “severe” labour shortages, according to the latest industry survey.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) said demand would rise by 320,000 in the next 10 years.

To deal with it, it wants a rise in numbers working in new homes, factories and across sectors.

There are more than 27 million workers in manufacturing in the UK.

The figures show there will be 210,000 more jobs in manufacturing by 2025.

The number of apprenticeship places has risen, but that is not enough, it added.

Resurgent industry

About 22% of those registered with the Home Builders Federation are of European Union (EU) passport holders, but there are fears some will leave after Brexit.

Home Builders Federation chairman Tony Mould told the BBC he was “concerned” about the Brexit impact.

While the UK has a high proportion of people working in manufacturing, compared with other countries, Mr Mould said the association wanted to retain the skills in the UK.

“Whatever happens as far as Brexit is concerned and whatever people do, it is important that we retain people coming into the industry,” he said.

“Some want to move out, some want to move in. Some are looking to get out from small parts, some want to stay here and work more broadly. I would say the priority is for the people currently on the books.”

He added that figures showed there was “really a resurgent industry going on”.

“Most of what is happening in the industry is positive,” he said.

Long hours

Home Builders Federation chief executive Mark Todd said the UK faced the “biggest challenge we have faced in a generation” when it came to finding enough skilled workers to fill new jobs.

He told the BBC many people put long hours and “broken lives” ahead of their employment prospects.

“We are now trying to move people out of the automotive sector and into other sectors where we think they are going to be able to get a better quality of life.”

“It is quite a challenging task. There are some people who are willing to do it, who want to do it, but are not prepared to make the sacrifices, the changes, the broken lives they are living on £17,000 a year,” he said.

Mr Todd said the industry could recruit workers in homebuilding, but that workers had to have the right attitudes, who could “be trained to their full potential”.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Training for new staff is a key issue for the Home Builders Federation

He said the current immigration system was “absurd” and had already lost out the industry after the Brexit vote.

But he added the industry had not planned for Brexit.

“We haven’t been given the chance by either the UK government or the EU to plan for what happens next, we are not planning for it or doing our best to keep people from moving out,” he said.

He said building workers needed qualifications and flexibility from employers.

“You have to have all the skills but also an ability to adapt.”

The HBF’s research showed more than 8,000 skilled workers had left the industry in the past five years.

A spokesman for the government said the government recognised the shortage of skilled and reliable workers was a problem.

“The Home Office is investing in creating the future skilled workforce we need, including employing full-time immigrants to teach British workers, creating 200,000 apprenticeships by 2020 and more than 1,000 new schools that teach young people life skills,” he said.

“We are also raising standards for short-term overseas workers in order to ensure they are held to the same standards as British workers.”

The government was also working on a plan to make training affordable for applicants, he added.

Meanwhile, Tony Mould said there should be incentives for companies to invest in learning people’s technical skills so they would be ready to take on skilled workers.

But he said it was too easy for companies to get round that requirement.

“They use very little of their resources towards developing staff that are capable of doing things that we need, like building machines, handling workers and doing different jobs.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Nearly a quarter of workers employed in manufacturing are from EU member states

Leave a Comment