Over third Of UK companies say young people lack work ethic to succeed in manufacturing

In a survey of British manufacturers – part of the Institution’s Manufacturing a Successful Economy 2013 report – manufacturers also said that as many as 57 per cent of apprentices, graduates and new recruits lack practical skills, while over 40 per cent said they lacked communication skills. 45 per cent of the manufacturers polled said that design skills posed an issue with young recruits, while 36 per cent 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 per cent said that they were finding it difficult to recruit design engineers, just under 40 per cent said they have difficulty recruiting people with skills in production and 36 per cent said they were struggling to find new product specialists.

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