Uncertain future for the UK’s metalworking sector?

According to research from power tool manufacturer FEIN, the metalworking industry is glum about its future prospects, fearing a lack of new talent and automation taking away jobs. Here, FEIN takes us through the opinions and some of the ways forward…

  • 83% believe the government must do more to support the future of the trade through better promotion of the industry, further funding for training schemes and additional courses during education
  • 57% believe that young people don’t want to work in the industry
  • 47% are seeing traditional apprentice roles being automated
  • 35% believe apprentices slow down the workflow and impede productivity
  • One-third believe their role will ultimately be taken over by a robot
  • 20% admit their company doesn’t take on apprentices or offer any training schemes
  • 15% are fearful for the future of the industry

Despite being one of the UK’s most prominent sectors, the metalworking industry is struggling to attract new talent and apprentices. Research commissioned by power tools and accessories manufacturer FEIN has uncovered that 80% believe not enough is being done to encourage young people to take up a career in the industry.

The same report also discovered that 76% believe there are fewer younger people entering the metalworking sector year-on-year, while 42% believe the skills shortage will have the biggest impact on the future of the industry, with 74% confirming it’s a serious issue that must be tackled.

“With almost half of those surveyed believing that the skills shortage will be the greatest thing to impact the industry, it’s clear that more must be done at all levels of the sector to support emerging talent and attract the next generation of metalworkers,” says FEIN UK MD Raphael Rudolph.

“If combating this issue doesn’t take precedence for businesses moving forward, many fear their industry (and skillset) will soon become extinct, as high levels of skilled professionals continue to retire each year, with not nearly enough individuals entering the sector to fill the growing gap.”

“It’s clear that more must be done at all levels of the sector to support emerging talent and attract the next generation of metalworkers”

Raphael Rudolph, FEIN UK MD

Despite the negative outlook uncovered by the research, 60% of those questioned are hopeful for the future of the sector, with 88% stating that from the apprentices who are joining the industry, their contributions are invaluable, and they bring fresh ideas, drive and tenacity. Furthermore, half of those asked would like further training to enable them to provide additional support to emerging talent and give them the best start possible to their careers, with many looking to manufacturers, like FEIN, to provide this added support and training.

“While the research solidifies the fact that more needs to be done at all levels of the industry to tackle the skills shortage, there is hope and although there’s some room for improvements, those entering the industry appear to have the talent to drive business forward if provided with the right support,” concludes Rudolph.