Scottish Engineering’s Quarterly Review is a trends survey of the manufacturing engineering industry produced from information gathered from our member companies. It is distributed to all member companies, MSPs, MPs, MEPs, relevent government and university departments and the Press.





Encouraging Forward Thinking For Skills

With a specific focus in its benchmark quarterly review on industry’s preparedness for future skills, Scotland’s leading representative body for the Engineering and Manufacturing Industries reports a highly positive forward looking view for the provision of work-based learning programmes, a mood that is generally aligned for orders, output and staffing, with even optimism keeping its head above water despite continuing uncertainty.

Explaining the drive to add this focus to its reporting for the quarter, Scottish Engineering’s Chief Executive Paul Sheerin stated: “While skills remain the number one conversation point in our industry, the future supply of talent faces several challenges due to our currently historically low unemployment rate coupled with an aging sector workforce. Add to that the increasing competition for STEM candidates from other sectors and industry, plus the Brexit impact of decreasing net migration, and you can see why we are more than encouraged to see that almost 50% of our survey plan to increase apprentice places in the medium term.”

Scottish Engineering asked their members to share their plans for apprenticeship places in the next twelve months and mid-term timeframe, and encouragingly all areas show a planned increase.

  • 47% of respondents plan an overall increase across all three streams of apprenticeships over the next three to five years, a level that underlines how seriously companies are taking the need to secure future skills.
  • Modern Apprentice programme shows the most planned growth in the next twelve months, with over 43% of companies indicating plans for increased intake.

The newer apprenticeship programmes for Foundation and Graduate streams showed lower increases of 16% and 21% respectively, and from that the industry body concludes that whilst the increase is welcome, there is still collective work to do to convince industry of the value of these work-based learning initiatives.

Looking beyond that, the survey asked employers what factors restricted their plans to increase the numbers of training places, and the most common answer highlighted a lack of training resource and time within smaller organisations to do justice to the training of more young people.

Concluding the review, the Chief Executive further added: “Scottish Engineering has underlined the need to press the UK government to look again at the content of their immigration policy proposal to take into account the differing needs of Scotland within the UK. The very last thing that our manufacturing industry need is wider pressure across labour supply, whether that be for skilled engineering and technician roles, or just as importantly the operator group where we enjoy significant levels of EU nationals in our workplaces. In this respect our specific ask is that the UK Government this time act on feedback they receive in consultation, as there seems very little evidence of the extensive input given prior to the publication of the white paper actually influencing the output we received.”