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Investments in training and apprenticeships back on track

Manufacturers are reaffirming their commitments to apprenticeships following the pandemic, with ‘growing your own’ promoted as the best long-term solution to the looming ‘skills drain’.

Training provider In-Comm Training surveyed 105 companies across England about their vocational training plans, primarily in the general engineering and manufacturing, automotive and aerospace sectors.

The findings show that investment in apprenticeships is now recovering towards pre-pandemic levels. Two thirds of respondents said they had hired an apprentice in the last twelve months, and 70 per cent said they intend to take on an apprentice over the coming year.

One of the biggest concerns identified by respondents was the so-called ‘skills drain’ stemming from older workers retiring, with 70 per cent now worried about the looming impact on their staff and their ability to meet the requirements of customers.

Gareth Jones, Managing Director of In-Comm Training, said the results showed a “massive shift change” from the same survey in 2021, which found that nearly two thirds of companies had failed to hire an apprentice.

"Despite all of the pressures, the turmoil and the restrictions [over the last 12 months], bosses believed it was vital to retain existing learners and, importantly, continue to invest in new ones as they didn’t want to be hit with a skills gap when the recovery started.

“This is none more pertinent than in engineering, where there is a lack of talent and the people that are out there are demanding extortionate wages. Growing your own is the only sustainable way of getting around this situation and those that held their nerve during the pandemic have come out of it better.”

According to the survey, the most popular area for taking on apprentices over the next 12 months is Engineering and Manufacturing (62 per cent), although training in Continuous Improvement, Leadership & Management, and Health, Safety & Environment are becoming notably more popular.

Gareth Jones continued:

“The biggest takeaway from this report is how firms are seeing apprenticeships in more than their traditional guise and using them to develop Engineering, Leadership & Management, Continuous Improvement and Health & Safety professionals.

“I’d like to think we could build on this as a way of increasing multi-skilling throughout organisations, retraining people in new technologies and halting the skills drain.”

In the recent Spring Statement, the government announced that it will be examining how to reform the tax system to encourage more employers to invest in training and apprenticeships, with the current Apprenticeship Levy system one of the areas under review.

For advice on training, mitigating the skills drain and making the best use of skilled labour, contact our Manufacturing Service today.  

Image Credit: Ferrari SpA

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