MANUFACTURING
THE FUTURE WORKFORCE

Addressing the UK's manufacturing skills challenge

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The workforce crisis in UK manufacturing is well known. There is an acute skills gap that prevents manufacturers from successfully exploiting new technologies. This report provides a blueprint for the way forward.

 The skills opportunity

The Skills Opportunity


Drawing from good practice across the globe, we highlight that there is a very real opportunity for the UK to catch up with and then secure a competitive advantage from its research and innovation communities, by leveraging its knowledge and understanding in a Skills Value Chain.

Integration is key here – with government, industry and education providers working together with common purpose to produce a workforce fit for the future. In this landscape, Centres of Innovation (including the HVM Catapult, NPL and TWI) can lead the way.

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Our approach


Built from much greater connectivity between stakeholders, it recommends a new approach involving better foresighting and forecasting of future needs and making significant improvements to learning delivery. This Skills Value Chain emphasises the unique contribution Centres of Innovation can have.


Our approach

Our recommendations


The report makes 5 recommendations based on good practices identified around the world. They are that the UK should:


  1. Develop and pilot the application of skills foresighting.
    Bring together groups education and technology specialists to analyse and articulate any required changes to current standards and provision based on employer needs.

  2. Support the development of Higher Technical Qualifications and National Standards.

  3. Develop modular training and resources to support future workforce skills development.
    The content should be used and refined during early-stage adoption by geographically distributed and relatively low volumes of learners at specialist locations, including Centres of Innovation, and then as ‘blueprints’ for wider diffusion and scale-up responding to local industry demand. Training and resources must be suitable both for new workforce entrants and to upskill and reskill those already in work and previously qualified. This will require flexible and modular modes of learning that fit around the working and personal lives of adult learners and which also provide a recognition of achievement.

  4. Promote ‘Learning Factories’ as an education model to enable industrial digitalisation.
    A Learning Factory is not a simple duplicate of an industrial factory but is designed as a simulation to enable experiential learning based on common scenarios.

  5. Improve recognition and funding of modular and lifelong learning.
    Increased take-up of modular courses with formal recognition of continued achievement has been shown by our report to be an important factor in making reskilling and upskilling programmes effective for individuals and industry alike by providing incentives for learners. Action will be required by Professional Engineering Institutions, academia, government and industry bodies to increase access to courses with related national and local funding, and to motivate adults to undertake upskilling that reacts to future.

Further information


For more detailed discussion of our findings, please download the full report below. Supplementary documents are also available to download, with a breakdown of identified good practice by study visit.



further information
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