Duration: 22 April 2002 to 30 May 2002
|The second SLIM theme examined the causes and possible remedies for the growing shortage of skills in a group of occupations that are crucial to productivity and competitiveness - the Craft and Skilled Trades.
The craft and skilled trades includes: fitters, welders, bricklayers, carpenters, roofers, scaffolders, plant operatives, steel/structural erectors, maintenance workers, electricians and plumbers. It also includes specialists in the 'heritage' skills, such as stone masons, wood carvers, farriers and wrought iron workers.
These skills are crucial to economic productivity and competitiveness. Yet the proportion of the population in the South West, and the UK generally, operating at NVQ Level 3, which is typically required for many of these trades, lags badly behind our European neighbours such as Germany and Holland.
Research shows high numbers of employers finding vacancies in these trades hard-to-fill, because candidates do not have the right skills. The consequences, reported by companies of all sizes, include loss of business, delays in introducing new products and services, reductions in quality, increased costs and a lack of adaptability to technological change. Sectors, such as construction and manufacturing, where craft skilled trades are concentrated, are particularly hard hit.
With an uneven supply of provision, an ageing workforce, and difficulties attracting new young entrants, the skills shortage in many craft and skilled trades appears set to get worse.
Many of the occupations are changing fast, with the existing workforce having to work hard keep up with technological developments and to develop 'generic' skills such as process control, team-work, scheduling, ordering and managing customer relations.
Yet pay levels in many craft and skilled trades are high. Many trades offer considerable opportunities for self-employment and small business development. And the recent 14-19 Green Paper, recognises the need to achieve parity of prestige and make these professions more attractive to young people.
Addressing this developing skills gap involves answering crucial questions, such as:
- Why are young people apparently reluctant to enter the craft and skilled trades?
For those who lack the time to take an active part in the Theme,
we will produce research briefs, summarising our research and findings.