Skills gap getting worse according to a third of project managers

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

The survey found that just 18% feel the skills gap in manufacturing is improving. Credit: Getty / Monty Rakusen
The survey found that just 18% feel the skills gap in manufacturing is improving. Credit: Getty / Monty Rakusen

Related tags labour shortage

A new survey has found that more than a third of project managers within the manufacturing sector believe that the skills gap is getting worse.

The Association for Project Management (APM) surveyed more than 1,000 professionals across the manufacturing sector to gauge their thoughts on the state of the industry and to seek solutions to the problems it faces.

When asked whether the skills gap was getting better or worse, 34% of respondents working in manufacturing said it was getting worse. A further 39% said that the skills gap had remained the same, while 18% said it was getting better and 9% said a skills gap did not exist in the sector.

Coined in the late 1990s, the skills gap is generally defined as the disparity between the skills that employers need or find desirable and the skills possessed by employees and prospective workers.

Across all industries, an average of 13% answered that the skills gap was getting worse in their sector, with only two of 17 sectors appearing more pessimistic than manufacturing.

Of those that felt the skills gap was worsening, more than half felt that apprenticeships served as the best solution. This was followed by wider recruitment and additional training at college, university or apprenticeships, as well as on-the-job training.

Elsewhere, adaptability, flexibility, communication skills and digital skills ranked as the most sought after skills, ahead of risk management and leadership.

The survey was conducted in advance of the 2024 edition of National Apprenticeship Week, the theme of which is ‘Skills for Life’.

UK economy ‘beset with skill shortages’

Commenting on the results, APM chief executive Professor Adam Boddison OBE said that more firms within the manufacturing sector “should embrace a culture of constant upskilling and retraining, with artificial intelligence, e-commerce and automation transforming how we live and work at a rapidly increasing rate​”.

Boddison continued by stating that the UK economy has been "beset with skill shortages​" for decades. This is the result, in his view, of many complex reasons ranging from “digital transformation to post-Covid effects​”.

It is alarming that one in three project management professionals in the manufacturing sector think the problem is getting worse in 2024, despite all the well-publicised and well-intended initiatives in recent years​,” Boddison added.

And while it is positive to see many manufacturers investing in skills by offering apprenticeships, there is a sizeable minority who aren’t doing so currently. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to help plug the skills gap since they blend a professional qualification with supported learning and development while in a full-time role.

“As the chartered body for the profession, APM champions greater professionalism in projects and driving a better understanding of the importance of the use of expert project professionals in project delivery.”

In other news, the top TikTok food trends in the UK for 2023 have been revealed.​​

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