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Defeat the manufacturing skills gap in your business

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If 40% of your workforce retired next year, would you be able to recruit enough skilled workers to replace them? Approximately 40% of the manufacturing workforce are aged 50 and over and will look to retire before too long. Manufacturers are already reporting problems with recruiting skilled employees, and if left unaddressed, this manufacturing skills gap could become a serious problem for your business. But it doesn’t have to be, support is out there to help your business defeat the gap and you can access it all through How’s Business, the Growth Hub for York, North Yorkshire and East Riding by emailing support@howsbusiness.org.

In the meantime, there are lots of practical steps that you can take to start overcoming the skills shortage right now, like upskilling your current employees, encouraging existing staff members to stay with the business and by creating a work environment that people enjoy. To help you, here’s a few ideas of what you can do in your business to overcome the manufacturing skills gap.?

First and foremost, you want to retain the staff you already have. Recruitment is a costly and time consuming process and with jobs in manufacturing becoming increasingly competitive, there’s no guarantee you can attract the right staff. Retaining employees who already have the skills they need to complete their work is a big step towards stopping your business being victim to a manufacturing skills gap. It can be tricky, but there are some simple steps that you can take to make your workspace more attractive to your current employees as well as to incentive new talent to join your team.

Investment in new manufacturing technology can significantly increase the productivity of your staff, make your business more profitable and create an attractive work environment for current and future employees. New technologies not only make your business more efficient and less costly, but they’ll likely make your employee’s work days easier and create more time to complete other tasks, provided that the change is managed effectively. If you’re bringing in advanced manufacturing processes, you can upskill employees on how to use those systems thanks to fully funded skills programmes. Skills Support for the Workforce conduct a skills gap analysis to find out what training your staff need and then create a bespoke training plan to give your employees the skills they need, making it even easier for you to train your staff.

Training is a great way to show your employees that you value them as more than just workers in your business. Employees are much more likely to remain with your business and be loyal to you if you invest time and money in their personal and professional development. Training can be expensive, but it increases your employee’s time in your business so you’ll get a bigger return on your training investment and helps you to overcome the manufacturing skills gap. You might want consider using an apprenticeship scheme in your business, as 77% of apprentices remain with the business who trained them. Apprentices also offer a balance between work and study to ensure you always remain productive. With the changes to apprenticeship funding, and the funded support from the Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub, it’s never been easier to use apprenticeship training to bring new staff or train your current employees. Remember, an apprentice doesn’t have to be someone new to your business, you can use an apprenticeship scheme to give your employees skills equivalent to a degree.

Creating a productive and healthy work environment for your staff will also encourage employees to want to remain with your business. Paying the living wage, rather than just the national minimum wage can go a long way to increasing staff satisfaction and retention. Don’t underestimate the value of talking to your staff either, as they can share with you their thoughts for improving their work space. If you can create a positive business culture for your employees to work it, they’ll share that with their friends and family and word will build that you’re a great employer to work for. This image will then encourage more people to apply when you recruit as you’ll become a desirable employer which will help you overcome the manufacturing skills gap long term

When you’re hiring new employees, take a few risks. Hire people who have less experience than you might like and upskill them. People can’t get experience if no employer is willing to take a chance in the first place which will only serve to worsen the skills shortage in your industry. Use programmes like Higher Skills, Skills Support for the Workforce and the Yorkshire Apprenticeship Hub to take an employee with great potential but little experience and transform them into a valuable and highly efficient member of staff. Thanks to these programmes, you can create the team that you need for your business rather than waste time and resources searching for the already perfect employee.?

You might also want to think about moving your existing employees to higher positions in your business and bringing in new people to fill the lesser skilled roles. Promoting your current members of staff will show them that you value their contributions to your business and increase the likelihood that they’ll remain with you for longer. If they are very technically skilled and have built up a great network of contacts, you don’t want to lose that expertise, so show your staff that you value and trust them though promotion. If they need a little additional training to progress to new positions, Higher Skills can provide and fully fund it.

When moving people around in your business, you might experience a drop in production while they find their feet in their new role. If you offer a mentoring system utilising the experience of your existing staff, you can lessen the amount of time needed to allow your new employees to become productive. It will also show your existing staff how much you rely on their expertise to ensure the smooth operation of your business and encourage them to remain loyal to your business?

There are lots of funding for skills training that you can access through us. We bring together all the local business support schemes for training and other funded support programmes to make it easy for you to take advantage of opportunities to grow your business. To see what support you might qualify for, email one of our team at support@howsbusiness.org.