Skilled technicians play a critical role in optimising the performance and productivity of our manufacturing facilities, and their capability will be key to realising the opportunities provided by new technologies and industrial digitalisation. Industry demand continues to be high for skilled employees for roles such as maintenance technicians, machinists, and welders, but supply is scarce. Developing these skills needs significant investment in education and training, and new technologies require new and more advanced skills.
The supply of skilled technicians had been identified as a risk to advanced manufacturing growth in the North East. We were commissioned by the North East Automotive Alliance to identify the key issues impacting supply, and recommend actions which could help meet future needs.
We sought insight from stakeholders from across industry, and education and training, through meetings and survey feedback. We analysed the supply and demand for technicians and advanced apprentices in the region, and considered national trends and the broader policy and funding context. We also consulted with subject matter experts, and explored best practice from other regions through site visits.
We highlighted the need for a more focussed regional approach to better leverage investment and capability in technical training, and to ensure that skills required for new and emerging technologies are developed in a world-class environment. We identified the importance of a more integrated vocational education pathway, to enable development of higher levels skills and progression from Level 3 through to Level 6/7, and highlighted opportunities to achieve this. We also identified opportunities to translate this into a more compelling advanced apprenticeship and technical training offer for both candidates and SMEs. Containment actions were recommended to address the near-term demand for technicians, in the period prior to increases in advanced apprenticeship training translating into a supply of qualified technicians.