By Neil Burns, co-founder and director at Croft Filters and Croft Additive Manufacturing

CBI’s annual education skills survey has highlighted that employers are currently experiencing difficulties in recruiting STEM-qualified staff at all levels . In addition, a recent Shell Springboard report has revealed that the growing skills gap in this specific sector is predicted to cost the UK £6.7bn by 2023 .

As the skills gap is set to intensify over the next three years, it is clearly something that needs addressing. This article addresses the benefits apprenticeships can bring to the manufacturing industry and the measures employers should be taking to ensure they are recruiting high calibre candidates.

It’s more important than ever that business leaders recognise the need to pledge support and establish closer relationships with education providers through approved schemes, such as apprenticeships.

It’s been widely acknowledged that apprenticeships have the potential to shrink the skills gap and give the industry what it needs; truly qualified candidates with invaluable practical experience.

Apprentice benefits

Apprenticeships give young people the opportunity to actively learn practical skills on the job supported with an academic framework which provides the perfect training for a budding engineer.

There is also a long list of benefits for employers when it comes to hiring apprentices. As well as investing in the next generation of industry leaders, it provides the opportunity to strengthen the team with fresh ideas and maintain a high standard of service and quality for customers.

For example, one of our Croft apprentices, Matthew Retford, uses the skills he is learning on his Performing Engineering Operations NVQ Diploma to use to benefit our customers each day on our shop floor.

Tackling recruitment

During the recruitment process, it’s important to look for an individual who has a genuine passion for the sector you specialise in, as well as somebody who possesses knowledge about your organisation.

It’s truly impressive when an apprentice has a real desire to work in a specific team or company, and this drive is something that will most definitely give them the edge over other candidates during the recruitment process.

When considering taking on more than one apprentice, it is a good idea to look across a number of different colleges and schools to ensure you’re recruiting a diverse mix of candidates. This way, the employer gains extra benefits as the apprentices can share their learning and training with each other and the wider team.

The solution to the skills gap really does lie in the hands of the industry. Organisations must ensure they are playing their part to develop talent and make the most of the core skills that the next generation of experts offer.