Nearly half of Midlands manufacturing and engineering firms expect to take on extra staff this year, despite increased employment costs, a continuing skills shortage, and the reality of Brexit negotiations now beginning to bite.
But they warn that sluggish international demand for UK manufactured goods, the additional cost burdens of the Apprentice levy and National Living Wage; coupled with continuing skills shortages which have been further exacerbated by immigration uncertainty surrounding Brexit creates a heightened level of uncertainty within the manufacturing sector.
The findings are revealed in the Consilium 2017 Manufacturing and Automotive Salary Surveys. A cross-section of manufacturing and engineering employers across the industrial heartland of the Midlands took part in the survey to find that 42 per cent expected their headcount numbers to rise this year. In the automotive sector this grew to 46 per cent. Most of the remainder expected their headcount to remain the same or decrease slightly.
Automotive, aerospace and FMCG companies in particular are expecting to recruit this year, especially in product and process engineering, design and quality functions.
Paul Gunnell, Business Development Manager for Consilium said despite there being some clouds on the horizon, there was plenty of optimism in the manufacturing sector, particularly in view of the new markets and emergence of technology available to UK firms whom are prepared to innovate.
The main concern that continues to pre-occupy industry however is the shortage of engineering talent. He added, “With severe skills shortages across manufacturing and engineering at an all-time high, the Government needs to clarify visa policy so that growing firms can not only attract much-needed global talent into the UK workplace, but also encourage those already domiciled here that they are welcome to stay”.