Navigating the Skills Crisis
Challenges and Solutions in the Manufacturing and Engineering Sector
The manufacturing and engineering sector is currently facing a significant challenge – a skills crisis that threatens to hamper growth and innovation. According to a government study, a staggering 186,000 skilled engineers are needed annually to bridge the widening skills gap.
Compounding this issue is the fact that almost 20% of the current workforce is set to retire by 2026, taking with them invaluable knowledge and skills built over decades.
The impending retirement of a substantial portion of the workforce raises concerns about the industry’s ability to transfer critical knowledge to the next generation. The departure of experienced engineers and manufacturers could leave a void in the industry’s collective expertise, potentially impacting productivity, quality, and the ability to adapt to evolving technological advancements.
The skills crisis has direct consequences on the manufacturing and engineering sector. As companies struggle to find skilled professionals, there is a risk of project delays, reduced efficiency, and a decline in overall industry competitiveness. Additionally, the lack of skilled workers may hinder the adoption of emerging technologies and innovations that are crucial for the sector’s growth.
Recognising the urgency of the situation, initiatives such as the ‘Made Smarter’ program in the UK are working to provide essential support. The program offers grants to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to invest in training and upskilling their workforce. By focusing on enhancing digital skills and embracing Industry 4.0 technologies, the initiative aims to future-proof the industry and foster a new generation of skilled professionals.
To address the skills crisis, a multi-faceted approach is essential. Training and upskilling initiatives need to be ramped up, not only for new entrants but also for the existing workforce. Continuous learning programs can help current employees adapt to evolving technologies and methodologies, ensuring that their skills remain relevant in an ever-changing industry landscape.
The motion control sector, responsible for managing movement or motion on machines and in processes, faces a unique set of challenges. The intricacies of motion control systems demand a specialised skill set, and the scarcity of qualified professionals in this niche poses a significant threat to industry efficiency.
To cultivate the next generation of skilled professionals, there must be closer collaboration between industry and education. Manufacturing and engineering companies can actively engage with educational institutions to shape curricula that align with industry needs. Internship programs, apprenticeships, and mentorship opportunities can bridge the gap between academic knowledge and practical skills.
To help during the transition, there are tools, such as the KeTop touch-screen operator panels from KEBA, that can help address the issues presented by a changing, diverse workforce.
The KeTop panels can be used to simplify the complexities associated with machine control and monitoring, empowering workers with varying levels of technical expertise to efficiently interact with machinery.
The skills crisis in the manufacturing and engineering sector demands immediate attention and concerted efforts from industry stakeholders, policymakers, and educational institutions.
While the ‘Made Smarter’ initiative is a step in the right direction, a comprehensive and sustained approach is required to address the root causes of the skills gap. By investing in training, upskilling, and fostering collaboration between industry and education, the sector can overcome the challenges posed by the skills crisis and emerge stronger and more resilient in the face of future uncertainties.