6 key findings from our Reinventing the Manufacturing Workforce report | EEF

6 key findings from our Reinventing the Manufacturing Workforce report

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Today, EEF published its latest report – Reinventing the Manufacturing Workforce. Technological change in UK manufacturing has been ever present since the dawn of the industrial revolution, but while technological change has always been a driver for the makers, manufacturing stands on the cusp of a revolution. Hand in hand with this new technology will be the people needed to deploy it to its fullest effect. Just as technology is changing rapidly, the people using it must adapt not only to new ways of working, but also to new work. Our report takes a critical look at the challenges manufacturers will face and what they need to do to prepare for these challenges.


Over the course of the next few weeks we will do some deep dive blogs onto some of the key themes, but to whet your appetite for what’s to come here are 6 key findings.

1. Just one-third (32%) of manufacturers have a workforce plan.
That means an overwhelming two-thirds don’t have a workforce plan. This is despite a greater need for companies to ensure that they have the right people with the right skills needing to navigate the many changes and challenges that lie ahead.

2. Two-thirds of manufacturers expect their workforces to increase in the next five years.
Two-thirds of manufacturers expect their workforces to increase in the next five years, with almost a quarter expecting an increase of between 6-10%. This is primarily driven by plans to introduce new products but also driven by the adoption of new technologies and techniques. This is an interesting one as it means as companies are taking advantage of 4IR, they are in fact creating jobs and employment opportunities – we will come back to this in a future blog.

3. 72% of manufacturers are introducing new or continuing to run formal apprenticeships to secure the skills they need for the future.
It’s no surprise to me that the manufacturing industry is continuing in its efforts to acquire the skills it needs for the future through apprenticeships. Graduate programmes seem to have taken a dip with just over a third (36%) pursuing this.

4. Almost half of manufacturers are revising their recruitment strategies to recruit workers from other industries and sectors with transferable skills
With a shrinking talent pool available and competition for skills fierce, manufacturers are broadening their recruitment options and seeking to recruit workers from other sectors and industries. To be successful, these workers need the right transferable skills – this is again a point we’ll pick up in the coming week – after all – what exactly are transferable skills for the manufacturing industry?

5. A wider range of flexible working practices are more likely to be offered to non-production than production employees
Flexible and agile ways of working bring with it many benefits, but in manufacturing the level of flexibility offered differs and can’t be found in every cornerstone of the manufacturing workplace. That’s not to say they don’t offer these forms of working – for production employees the focus tends to be on unpaid leave and part-time working. Compared to non-production employees which work from home on a regular basis.

6. Attracting and retaining employees is a big push for offering workplace flexibility

Three-quarters of manufacturers (74%) offer agile ways of working to retain existing employees and 56% offer flexible forms of working to make the their business more attractive to future employees. But it’s not just recruitment and retention that’s seen as beneficial – some 38% of manufacturers want to improve employee productivity by offering flexible working.


As you can imagine, we are covering a lot of ground in our report and so we’ve got a range of recommendations up our sleeve – some calls to action for manufacturers themselves and others for Government. If you can’t wait around for our next report, you can read the full report here.



Head of Education & Skills Policy

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