A LACK of capable recruits in the manufacturing sector is a ‘national scandal’ according to the head of a manufacturing group.
Chris Coopey, head of the manufacturing sector at Worthing-based accountancy firm Carpenter Box, believes the shortage, which includes a lack of skilled engineers, is harming future prospects for the industry.
The comments come after a survey by Carpenter Box, in conjunction with MHA, which Mr Coopey also heads, of companies across the area.
He said: ““The government is committed to rebalancing the economy through manufacturing, yet the sector continues to suffer from a shortage of capable and motivated recruits and skilled engineers, including graduate engineers, which is a national scandal.
“This will become a real barrier to growth. One suggestion among the survey respondents is to create an ‘industry to education’ interface that will support the education system in developing young people with the right skills set for industry.”
Mr Coopey said better signposting was also needed to encourage young people into engineering.
He said: “Failing to grasp this nettle will mean that the manufacturing renaissance the UK needs will be strangled at birth and the competitive ability of UK manufacturers looking to trade around the world will be seriously compromised.”
Despite the shortage, the survey revealed that over 90 per cent of manufacturers were predicting growth in 2014.
Common challenges to firms included energy prices, increasing regulation – despite government commitments to the contrary in the recent Budget - and the costs associated with auto-enrolment.
A total of 72 per cent of firms also reported the banks becoming more open to providing funding.
Mr Coopey said: “The underlying trend is very positive for those SMEs in the south operating in the manufacturing sector.
“It’s possible that many had to restructure during the economic downturn and are now reaping the benefits of improved productivity.”