Last updated: 09.01.14

Manufacturing firms 'must' look to upskill staff

Despite the UK manufacturing sector being described as 'indispensable' to the future of the European economy, more needs to be done to ensure employees in this industry have the relevant skills.

This is according to Simon Thomas, managing director of Asset International, who claimed in a blog for the Huffington Post that if the nation is to secure the sector, it needs to concentrate on its skills development.

He said that as well as replacing qualified workers who have retired with fresh talent, it is crucial to upskill, as apprenticeships up to degree equivalent are not enough. Firms must invest properly in their existing staff if the economy is to compete.

"It's imperative that businesses utilise and build on the skills of their employees - after all it is unlikely that the qualifications a person starts a job with will stay up-to-date in the fast paced modern manufacturing world," Mr Thomas explained.

This means ploughing more resources into training workers and offering them educational models that are more flexible and engaging, such as e-learning.

Technology is becoming increasingly central to everyday life - business included - and failing to recognise this in the workplace could be holding employers back from boosting their staff's skillsets.

Because there are so many great online training providers out there, such as Virtual College, it would be a shame for companies to miss out on the many opportunities and solutions and available to them.

Mr Thomas said that investment in staff is the best path to follow, as the benefits by far outweigh the costs involved.

"If you consider productivity levels and staff loyalty, training is one way of ensuring employees feel intrinsically motivated," he added.

It is Mr Thomas' expert opinion that any organisations that fail to invest in their workforce's skills, whether through trainer-led sessions, online learning or a mixture of the two, will struggle to capitalise on the growth opportunities that the continuing financial recovery will bring for the economy.