UK industry fears skills squeeze in push to hire a million workers

MANUFACTURERS are starting to feel the effects of a squeeze on skills as the economy recovers, and will need a million new employees by 2020, according to a report released today.

Industry group EEF says the limited number of students in technical subjects in the UK could be a strain on the sector. When looking abroad, firms struggle with red tape on hiring migrants.

Over half of manufacturing companies say that sponsoring an international student for these subjects is very time consuming, and 44 per cent have had visa difficulties. Less than a third of employers find the system easy to navigate.

Two thirds of these groups say they plan to hire an apprentice in manufacturing or engineering during the next year, showing the demand for skilled workers.

“Decisive steps must be taken if we do not want to see the manufacturing sector increasingly looking outside the UK for talent for fear of otherwise running out of steam,” said Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF.