An employer’s body has called on the coalition government to invest in skills training ahead of next week’s emergency Budget to help the manufacturing industry tackle skills gaps and fill 3,500 job vacancies.
Proskills, the Sector Skills Council for the Process and Manufacturing sector, said that, while it was not expecting blanket subsidies, it believed that adopting matched-funding approaches could provide a “positive way” of stimulating the skills market among both training providers and small-to-medium businesses.
Schemes such as the Joint Investment Programme, which was first announced in last year’s white paper entitled ‘Skills for Growth’, could also open up opportunities to develop training schemes and qualifications that matched current and future skills requirements, the organisation said.
Terry Watts, Proskills’ chief executive, explained: “A scheme that stimulates a greater investment in transferable skills within the sector would be a good first step towards ensuring that employers have a genuine voice in directing financial support for skills development, especially in areas that have not previously been eligible for funding.”
Government had in the past failed to take the needs of companies and their staff into consideration when evaluating skills training and qualification schemes. But matched funding initiatives were already proven to work, with Proskills having co-ordinated a matched total of more than £20 million from employers to date in order to develop the skills of more than 30,000 workers, Watts added.
According to research undertaken by the organisation, there are currently 3,500 vacancies in the manufacturing industry, while more than 44,000 personnel are experiencing skills gaps related to their existing occupations. But the situation was only set to get worse as manufacturing activity continued to rise.
“To remain at the forefront of world manufacturing, we must – with employers – invest in the skills of the workforce and make those skills transferable to allow people to become multi-specialists. By working in partnership with employers and supporting them in their investment in skills during this transition, we can help people to build their future in UK manufacturing,” Watts said.