The report, “Upskilling Industry: Manufacturing Productivity and Growth in England,” launched by Lord Bilimoria and sponsored in part by the ERA Foundation, provides recommendations to government, businesses, and education providers on navigating recent further education reforms and addressing skills gaps limiting productivity.
Key findings include:
- Support SMEs to upskill workforces, including incentives to offer T-Levels and host Skills Bootcamps.
- Allow greater flexibility in Apprenticeship Levy funds use, including ring-fencing unused funds to invest in broader upskilling.
- Launch a national campaign to increase STEM uptake by women and minority ethnic groups.
- Appoint a manufacturing ‘Champion’ to raise sector awareness in schools and promote manufacturing’s role in combating climate change.
The report stresses the need to increase diversity in the manufacturing workforce, highlighting the importance of getting more women into STEM roles to meet demand.
These targeted recommendations aim to help businesses, especially SMEs, engage with the reformed skills system and secure the talent pipelines crucial for productivity and growth.
Chair of the Manufacturing Commission, Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea, emphasizes the urgent need to address skills shortages in manufacturing: “throughout the evidence sessions that have informed this work, I have been inspired by accounts from manufacturing businesses that are using all levers available to them to upskill their workforces. The recommendations that we have made seek to help businesses, education providers, and individuals best navigate the current policy landscape and deliver the skills that the manufacturing sector so vitally needs.”
Lord Bilimoria highlights the critical role of upskilling in boosting productivity and supporting the competitiveness of British manufacturing. His comments reinforce the report’s call for collaborative action between government, businesses, and education providers to address skills gaps.
The ERA Foundation is pleased to have contributed to this timely report on equipping the manufacturing workforce with the skills needed for the future. As a leading voice on engineering policy and talent development, the Foundation will continue engaging in this critical discussion on maintaining the UK’s manufacturing competitiveness.