Two of the Midlands’ leading industrial voices have marked the first anniversary of a partnership aimed at tackling the skills crisis facing UK manufacturing.
MSC Industrial Supply Co and Next Gen Makers formed a strategic partnership at the end of 2021 to help engineering and manufacturing firms identify skills gaps within their organisation and improve the quality of their apprenticeship, talent development and retention schemes.
Next Gen Makers, which was founded in 2018, has established a group of over 50 engineering and manufacturing firms as part of its Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme. It enables those companies to share best practice regarding how to run successful apprenticeship schemes, whilst benchmarking their individual approaches to identify areas for improvement.
As part of the Programme, manufacturers can choose to pursue Accreditation for the Engineering Apprenticeships: Employer Kitemark. The scheme is backed by national manufacturing body Make UK, which recognises exemplar employers of Engineering apprentices via a 12-month rolling accreditation process. Achievement of the Kitemark recognises the company as an employer of choice for engineering apprenticeships.
The partnership with MSC, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of metalworking and MRO industrial consumables, has enabled Next Gen Makers to significantly expand its awareness among MSC’s extensive network of UK customers.
2022 saw a wealth of new companies join the Next Gen Makers Best Practice Programme, including the likes of Cummins, RBSL, Thyssenkrupp Materials, Collins Aerospace, Renishaw, and Sulzer.
Adam Tipper, Managing Director of Next Gen Makers, commented: “2022 has been a seminal year for Next Gen Makers, and our partnership with MSC has played a pivotal role in expanding our reach within the manufacturing industry, both in the Midlands and beyond.
“The skills shortage facing the manufacturing industry is not a new phenomenon, and while apprenticeships represent a tangible route forward, they must be fit for purpose. Worryingly, recent industry data revealed that 47% of apprentices are not completing their programmes, which clearly evidences the need for quality programmes that work for both the employer and the apprentice. Crucially, to improve retention of talent employers must understand how to deliver a great apprentice experience, which is much more complex than many believe it to be. By facilitating employers to benchmark their approach against best practice, we help them to identify where they can improve and then enable them to learn from the success of others to implement those improvements for themselves. Ultimately, this is futureproofing manufacturers against a rapidly evolving industrial landscape.”
James Howarth, Head of Category Management at MSC Industrial Supply Co, added: “We work with thousands of stakeholders across the manufacturing industry, and it is safe to say the skills gap is being felt more keenly than ever. With over half a million people leaving the workforce in recent years, the number of time-served engineers is falling faster than it can be replaced.
“However, the feedback from our customers who have worked with Nex Gen Makers to review, adjust and improve their apprentice offering has been fantastic. The skills gap will not be plugged overnight, but with an ever-growing number of organisations working towards Best Practice and Kitemark accreditation, the future is already looking brighter.”