To compete, thrive and future proof within an ever-changing UK engineering industry, new skills are essential – skills that may not be present in your current workforce.

For many a successful Apprenticeship scheme is central to resolving that, which could include embracing higher level apprenticeships for example.

Via the launch and scaling up of our Make UK backed Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme & Employer Kitemark, we at Next Gen Makers have seen firsthand the positive results achieved by many engineering & manufacturing firms across the UK that align a skills strategy to achieving long term business goals.

These companies report an increase in: Innovation, technological advancement, productivity, competitiveness and ultimately: Profitability.

Again, for many of these companies – the ‘UK Engineering skills shortage’ simply does not exist.

The Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme and Employer Kitemark involves a growing, nationally focused group of companies collaborating and sharing best practice within a skills agenda and a continuous improvement mindset.

What these companies have in common is that they took a step back from short term production pressures and adopted a medium to long term view of their business, their goals and, identifying what skills they would need to realise them.

A considerable number revisit and re-evaluate this on an annual basis.

From attracting talent, to mentoring, developing and retaining it, these forward-thinking companies are sharing what works with, and seeking solutions from, each other.

Essentially, we are not talking about reinventing the wheel, there are proven methods and new ideas out there in industry that many engineering & manufacturing firms have already embraced and are benefitting from – but most simply have not.

The key, as acknowledged by all within the group, is to be open minded enough to recognise that you can learn from others and then implement learnings within your own business for your own benefit.

They also recognise that it can be extremely useful for their business to be benchmarked against industry best practice – identifying gaps in their approach and areas to improve.

The nature of the various companies involved does differ – and recognising this has enabled us to categorise them into 2 distinct profiles, ‘Improvers’ and ‘Succeeders’.

IMPROVERS: A need or desire to improve how they attract or retain young engineering talent and solve skills gaps inhibiting future progress. These companies can achieve this via their ongoing learning and progression as part of the Best Practice Programme.

SUCCEEDERS: Typically, companies that are already achieving success in this area. They want to get recognised as an employer of choice via the Make UK backed Engineering Apprenticeships: Employer Kitemark accreditation. Not coincidentally, these companies also have a huge appetite to continue to learn and improve (traits which enable repeatable success).

Whether corporate or SME, Improver or Succeeder, all companies are following the same journey through the Best Practice Programme, as all seek to continually improve and recognise that doing so is a never-ending process.

Their journey starts with an online benchmarking questionnaire; a self-reflection exercise that also benchmarks the company against industry best practice.

As a starter for self-reflection, perhaps you could consider, when it comes to your approach to skills and future proofing your business, what is your company: An Improver or a Succeeder? And how much could you learn from other like minded peers in industry?