Competing with the manufacturing world by improving management skills

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Developing skills 290X217As the Fourth Industrial Revolution moves forward, it becomes apparent that developing the skills of current and future leaders is crucial and key to a sustainable and successful business.

How can the UK continue to be a leader in the digital age in which companies are facing a serious shortage of leadership skills?

An EEF research has found that improving management skills is one of the main areas the UK must concentrate on to increase the economy’s productivity performance.

This has been recognised by most manufacturers, with three fifths of companies having identified effective people management and leadership skills as a priority for their growth and for remaining competitive in the market. Those businesses have realised that they need to ensure they have upskilling, cross-skilling and reskilling programmes in place.

Why are leadership skills critical for the fourth industrial revolution?

The simple answer is that with innovative technology being implemented and factories becoming increasingly digitalised, it is crucial that leadership skills help direct and drive the adoption and development of future skills and qualifications that will be fundamentally different from the traditional manufacturing skills required. New skill sets that build on digital and technological expertise will be required in the following areas; 

  • Big data analysis
  • Autonomous systems
  • Digital twinning
  • Worker augmentation

Businesses also need to be alive to the needs of younger generation of employees, the millennials, who having grown up in a much more advanced, technological era, and have diverse attitudes and work ethics, may need to be motivated and managed differently.  

It is inevitable that businesses will go through a period of change and possibly major transformation to embed future skills. It will be essential to manage this change effectively, reduce any impact to employees whilst developing what will be a diverse and future focused workforce. 

Investing in and developing relevant leadership skills is vital. Your leaders are essential in providing direction, clarity and a vision, but they also need to fully comprehend the digital transformation their company has embarked upon and the workforce diversity this brings with it.

Using the Apprenticeship Levy for leadership training

Coinciding with the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Apprenticeship Levy has put the spotlight on leadership training. The Levy allows manufacturers to upskill their workforce, and develop management and leadership skills through levy funded apprenticeship programmes.

A comprehensive Management Development Apprenticeships (MDA) programme can assess and augment several key leadership skills, including personal effectiveness, interpersonal excellence and organisational performance. The MDA can meet the requirements of the funding while providing a solution for companies for whom leadership development is a priority. There’s a risk in companies not planning ahead for their training and development and those companies may find themselves with funds to spend but with nothing to use them for. 

It is important to make the most of the new prospects presented by the Apprenticeship Levy by first actively identifying exactly what skills are needed to be developed. A leadership gap analysis tool can help to identify potential skills gaps, gain insights into how to manage performance and retain talent, as well as planning effectively for change.

The new Apprenticeship Levy may be the best way for manufacturers to increase productivity, by investing in the development of the workforce. The right training and direction for employees who aspire to become (or be better) leaders can improve business performance and the production environment to the benefit of the employees, the organisation and the business as a whole.


If you’re ready to explore development options for your leaders, or are looking to develop your own skills, here are our top recommended programmes to explore:

Want to discuss your levy options for Management Development Apprenticeships? Call us on 0808 168 5874.

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