When EEF talks to its members, the number one concern of many of these manufacturing companies is how to fill their skills gaps. While Brexit and the Apprenticeship Levy will likely exacerbate this challenge, there is one key strategy government, educational institutions and companies can collaborate on. Girls and women are still a wellspring of talent that have not been fully tapped in the manufacturing sector.
One initiative EEF is working on is changing perceptions of manufacturing as an industry. Far from the grimy, low-skilled work that the media and others stereotype as the manufacturing workplace, modern manufacturing is one of the most exciting, innovative and skilled sectors in the UK economy today.
Women who work in this industry are always keen to share the positive experiences they’ve had and how engineering isn’t a man’s job, but about solving real world problems. We’ve profiled a few inspiring Women in Manufacturing on our website as part of this effort to show a new side of manufacturing.
Additionally, we run the EEF Photography Competition annually to encourage positive images of modern manufacturing. Professional, amateur and young photographers submit images from manufacturing workplaces across the country and the winners have their images in media publications as well as displayed at Westminster and ministerial offices across the country.
The next generation
In addition to recruiting and upskilling more women into the industry, manufacturers are proactively nurturing the next generation of talent to fill skills gaps.
There aren’t many manufacturers that don’t see the value in apprenticeships. Two-thirds of manufacturers plan to recruit an engineering apprentice in the next 12 months. Prior to the Apprenticeship Levy, the number of manufacturing and engineering apprenticeships has seen steady growth over the past 10 years. In fact, manufacturing and engineering apprenticeships tend to account for around 15% of all apprenticeships each year.
EEF is supporting manufacturers looking to grow their next generation of talent through our Technology Training Hub in Birmingham where we train 400 engineering apprentices for manufacturing employers each year.
Ensuring girls know that apprenticeship are a great route to qualifications and a great career is key to ensuring apprenticeship vacancies are filled and the best talent is found for manufacturers. EEF has produced several videos showcasing how girls have thrived training as engineering apprentices.
Additionally, our EEF Future Manufacturing Awards showcase up-and-coming engineering apprentices, including several inspirational young female apprentices. One such apprentice is Jess Stone who we recently profiled.
In honour of International Women in Engineering Day coming up, we’re looking to raise the profile of women in the industry on our social media accounts. So give us a follow and join the conversation!