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14 December 2015

Manufacturers doubt Government’s commitment, new survey finds

According to a new survey, manufacturers believe UK growth will be hampered unless engineering skills shortages are addressed.

Engineered in Britain: Manufacturing a Successful Economy? by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and accountants and business advisers BDO LLP reports that manufacturers have become less confident in the Government’s ability to create a more balanced economy by growing the sector.

The survey is an annual study to gauge the opinions of 1,000 manufacturers and 1,000 members of the public on the current status of UK manufacturing.

It revealed that just 45% of manufacturers believe that the Government is committed to creating a more balanced economy by growing the sector, a drop on last year’s 48%. This, however, was in contrast to public perception, with 40% believing that the Government is committed to creating a balanced economy, up 7% from last year.

Head of manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Philippa Oldham, said: “The UK economy has seen slow and steady growth since the financial crisis in 2008, however, full confidence in the manufacturing sector’s road to recovery has been patchy at best.

“The report shows that 77% of the manufacturers think that the lack of skilled engineers is the biggest barrier to future growth. We need to show our support to the sector through long term commitment to large infrastructure projects and do more to encourage industry to both up-skill and retain their UK workforce.”

Ms Oldham continued: “The solution is not for the Government alone to solve. What is needed is for the industry leaders to work with the Government and other parties to form a solution if the UK is to remain a major force in the global economic marketplace.

“At the Institution we are well aware of the skills shortage in engineering and are working hard collaborating on educational initiatives to ensure that we promote science and engineering as a viable career option for all.”

The report found that 75% of manufacturers would rather the Government favoured British-based companies when awarding manufacturing contracts, even if this was a more expensive option. The view was also backed by the public with 80% in agreement. When asked if they were finding engineers with the right skills and abilities, 49% of the manufacturers questioned said no, highlighting the work that needs to be done to address the skills shortages within the sector.

The report consists of two surveys, the first conducted by MSS Research, which gathered the views of 1,000 senior professional engineers working in the UK’s manufacturing sector. The second was conducted by ICM Unlimited, which put a majority of the same questions to 1,000 members of the general population.

To view the full report visit: http://www.imeche.org/docs/default-source/knowledge-manufacturing/imeche-eib-2015-v6.pdf?sfvrsn=0

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