Three-quarters of jobs in the UK must be medium or high-skilled by 2020, says EEF

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EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, has today launched its new Skills Manifesto urging the Government to set a target of three-quarters of jobs to be medium or high-skilled by 2020. The target is part of a policy blueprint designed to meet the manufacturing sector’s ever-increasing demand for skills.

It follows last month’s National Manufacturing Conference where it was revealed that manufacturers will be facing a technology-driven 4th industrial revolution within the next decade. Six in ten manufacturers (59%) are concerned about the impact this will have on skills, while 63% predict increased demand for highly skilled workers.

As part of its drive to ensure UK manufacturing is not left out in the cold, EEF is pushing for 90% of state secondary school maths, physics, chemistry and biology teachers to have at least a post A-level qualification in the subject they teach. It also wants to see a 25% increase in the number of apprentices completing engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships.

Other key steps by 2020 are to increase the number of UK engineering graduates by 25% and to cut the number of hard-to-fill manufacturing vacancies to 25%. EEF wants to see the Government and manufacturers working together to progress the skills agenda as this will not only secure competitive gains for business, but deliver employment and higher living standards for workers.

In addition to sustained growth in the sector’s talent pipeline, it says that investment in the national skills infrastructure must be leveraged to deliver the greatest economic benefit. However, policy makers must also listen more and allow employers to play a greater role in driving the agenda on skills.

Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, says: “This is a blueprint for the future of manufacturing and for policies that will support the demand not just for more skilled workers, but for more workers with higher-level skills.

“The face of manufacturing is changing as a result of rapid advances in technology. This change is global and will see us face fiercer competition from other manufacturing and trading nations. In turn, it will place immense pressure on both the talent pipeline and the existing skills pool. It is vital that the Government steps up to this challenge and works hand-in-hand with manufacturers to ensure that the UK is not left behind.”

To see a copy of EEF’s full manifesto Securing a manufacturing renaissance: priorities for Government see here.

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