Blog by Adam Tipper, Director Next Gen Makers

Last week I conducted a LinkedIn poll to try to gauge the feeling in industry regards intentions for taking on Engineering Apprentices come September 2020.

The question was simple: “If you had intentions to recruit Engineering Apprentices in September, how likely are you to still do that?”

Only the week prior I was asked that question by an Engineering student via email that was keen to find an Apprenticeship.

Understandably speaking to manufacturers across a variety of sectors in industry, some really can’t answer due to uncertainty in their industry and no former precedent for current circumstances, therefore putting plans on hold, some are investing and expanding and therefore may create opportunities soon, some unfortunately are struggling and laying off staff.

I honestly couldn’t give the student a straight answer regards where the opportunities are but knew more feedback would be really valuable for young people like him – of which there are likely to be 000’s this summer.

Considering the fallout from Covid-19, I genuinely had no idea what to expect.

69 manufacturers responded to the poll in total and I believe their feedback is worth sharing.

Of these, 22% said they WILL be taking on at least 1 Engineering Apprentice come September and a further 29% said that it was POSSIBLE that they will do so.

That means that a total of 51% of this sample were certainly not against it. In addition, 30% said it was not likely, meaning only 19% said NO.

Now I would never claim to be an expert in research and analytics, but I was heartened by what I considered to be a positive response.

Certainly, I think it is an important message for us to send to young people considering starting a career in engineering via Apprenticeships. Opportunities are still out there with employers.

In recent months various organisations including Make UK have been calling on manufacturers recently to not lock down the next generation. Cutting training budgets is regarded as one of the most counterproductive actions a company can take.

There is a huge engineering skills shortage in the UK – especially in the West Midlands. There will be many challenges for manufacturers over the next 12 to 18 months, especially in sectors such as aerospace.

However, it is important to state that there are lots of well diversified engineering and manufacturing firms in our region, a significant number of whom are investing and expect there to be short term opportunities for growth.

That is the narrative that I believe we need to keep pushing to inspire the next generation into the sector with confidence, so we can continue to reverse the trend of an ageing demographic and ensure a brighter future for engineering in our region.