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Reskill, Up-skill and Instil Lifelong Learning: Demands and Expectations in Engineering

14/11/18 David Philpott Manager, Electronics & Technology

Over the last year, there has been growing uncertainty about the direction of the UK as we leave the European Union, with a question mark over much of our future relationship with Europe, our trading relations with the world, and the shape an independent UK migration system will take. Just as important, the pace of technology, automation, robotics and rapid global communication is revolutionising the workplace: changing the way people work, how they use their skills, create ideas, and interact with one another. Indeed, many of the world leading technology, engineering and manufacturing companies and products today didn’t even exist 5 or 10 years ago. These advances and changes will all have a significant influence over the jobs of the future

David Philpott, Redline’s R&D and Engineering Manager discusses further:

According to the CBI’s ‘Educating for the Modern World’ annual report, employers expect to recruit more people over the coming years but worry there aren’t enough skilled people to fill these vacancies. With four in five businesses planning to maintain or increase their spending on training, it is evident that measures must be made to improve a business’s existing workforce.

For engineering and technical jobs, new technology is transforming the skills required for the sectors.  According to the Engineering UK 2018 report, 124,000 engineers and technicians with core engineering skills are required each year with 79,000 engineering-related roles to arise per year.

REC chief executive Neil Carberry commented: “Recruiters are Britain’s jobs experts, and what they tell us about skills shortages is reflected in this new survey from the CBI. Availability of skilled candidates is already tight, so improved investment in education and training from government and employers is essential, alongside a pragmatic approach to post-Brexit immigration.”

Business demand and expectation for skills is continuing to change

For the first time since 2014, the report finds over three quarters (79%) of businesses expect to increase the number of high-skilled professional roles over the coming years, and two thirds (66%) are concerned there will be a lack of sufficiently skilled people to fill them. The UK, therefore, needs a world-class academic and STEM education system now more than ever to prepare young people for a rapidly changing world and a labour market with evermore emphasis towards technology and engineering skills. The majority of businesses (79%) regard a 2:1 undergraduate degree (or above) as a good measure of academic ability, despite increasing numbers of 2:1 and above classifications being awarded.

Urgency to re-skill existing employees and instil a culture of lifelong learning

Technological advances and automation are increasingly changing the nature of work. In response, businesses across all sectors and of all sizes must think differently about how they develop their workforces. There is clear evidence in the survey findings that support the value of training, with more than four in five businesses (85%) planning to maintain or increase their investment in training in the year ahead.
Evidence for the pace of change in the labour market is demonstrated by nearly two-thirds of firms (62%) expecting to retrain at least some employees to take on new job roles in the year ahead, with over half of those businesses identifying new technologies or new services driving the need to retrain.

Business demand and skills expectations

Businesses expect to have more job openings for people at every skill level over the next three to five years. The biggest anticipated area of growth is at the higher end of the skills spectrum, with a positive balance of +79% of businesses expecting to grow their number of higher-skilled employees and a balance of +73% anticipating needing more people with leadership and management skills. However, businesses are increasingly concerned that they may not be able to fill all these new jobs: over half of businesses (52%) are not confident about accessing sufficient intermediate skilled talent in future, which is a switch from a net positive balance in 2017 (+16%) to a negative one (-10%) in 2018.

The nation’s future workforce will need to be ‘always learning’ - to be able to adapt and respond to advances in technology, where the dynamic labour market will render unskilled jobs as obsolete and new jobs will be invented which will require all businesses to revisit their onboarding process and training in order to improve retention. This will require business leaders, management and training managers to take a holistic approach in the way they train new and existing employees in order to create a highly skilled workforce in order for their business to succeed.

Providing initial and ongoing training has become even more vital when attracting new candidates to work for a business. With offer to acceptance ratios under pressure due to market changes and skills shortages, Redline’s research on Offer Vs Declination provides analysis for candidate declinations. For a copy of the research document please click here.

For more information regarding on knowledge-led recruitment processes, please contact David Collins on 01582 450054 or email