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Apprenticeships 2022

Digital and green skills are vital for manufacturing sector

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Jamie Cater

Senior Policy Manager (Employment), Make UK

Apprenticeships and other work-based training options can provide a valuable path into a high-paid, high-skilled role in manufacturing as the sector grapples with the challenges of digitalisation and net zero.

The manufacturing sector is home to outstanding training opportunities, and employers are helping to develop the next generation of talent to ensure that the manufacturing workforce is fit for the future. New initiatives such as T-levels sit alongside established schemes like apprenticeships, providing opportunities for young people to explore a career in manufacturing and engineering. They also offer companies the chance to invest early in young talent and address the emerging skills gaps in their workforces.

Employers, training providers and policymakers are already working together to make sure that the technical and vocational education landscape is equipping companies and their employees with the skills they need for the future. There is more to be done to support the development of the workforce over the coming years.

Digital and green skills are critical to the future of industry.

Meeting big industrial and societal challenges

The twin challenges of digitalisation and net zero are transforming the way in which manufacturing businesses operate. Having the right skills in the workforce – whether through recruiting new, young talent or upskilling existing employees – is crucial to enabling manufacturers to continue to invest in new technology, improve productivity and reduce emissions.

As many as two-thirds of manufacturers are re-assessing their workforce plans to reflect this, and a majority see apprenticeships as the best way to access the right technical skills to produce their goods in a more efficient and sustainable way. Digital and green skills are critical to the future of industry and introducing new policies such as a Green Skills Tax Credit would enable the Government and employers to prioritise this to a greater extent.

A modern and innovative workplace

Manufacturing embodies the Government’s aim of a high-skill, high-pay economy. Employers in the sector typically pay 12% above the average salary and are pioneering new methods of working which place the sector at the forefront of technological innovation, leaving behind outdated images of factory working. Manufacturing is a modern and innovative sector open to all sections of the community.

Employers are not only seeking new talent, but increasingly looking to upskill and retrain employees to retain and improve the skills already at their disposal. Apprenticeships can help with this and it is vital that industry works with the Government and training providers to understand how more flexible, modular training across skill levels can be delivered for the current workforce.

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