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Attracting a new generation of metal fabricators

The manufacturing skills gap in the UK has been well-documented, but new research has revealed just how urgent the need to address this crisis is.

According to the Annual Manufacturing Report, British Manufacturers face the largest shortage of skilled workers since 1989, with many citing this as their biggest challenge.

The metal works sectors are an essential part of the UK's economy and support many industrial sectors' supply chains – from aerospace and automotive to construction and energy. Technology has advanced tremendously, and most people would be surprised at the variety of jobs available in the metalworking industry.

The manufacturing skills gap

The UK is the ninth largest manufacturing nation globally. Manufacturers in the UK employ 2.7 million people. Yet the sector is facing the most extensive skills shortage in 30 years. In 2018, 81% of UK manufacturers admitted that they struggled to find people with the right experience and qualifications to fill vacant roles.

Some sub-sectors of manufacturing will be more vulnerable than others. For example, some sub-sectors will face severe shortages, despite expected overall workforce shrinkage, because of high levels of retirement. These include the manufacture of machinery, fabricated metal products, basic metals, electrical equipment, and "other transport", which currently account for a third of manufacturing jobs.

Ageing population

One of the main problems is that experienced workers are now retiring faster than new workers are entering the industry. Manufacturing is low on the list of career options young people want to pursue. This is largely down to the outdated perception of the industry – which is often seen as old fashioned, monotonous, and low-paid.

The work within the industry has increased, but there are fewer people who can do it. As a result, investments in the infrastructure sector have continued to grow, creating a higher demand for metal fabricators. The push for producing green energy also requires many metal fabricators to provide machining for applications such as solar-generating systems, wind turbines, and nuclear power plants.

The level of automation in the manufacturing sector is increasing, but people are still pivotal to the success of a business. But many companies are struggling to maintain their workforce. For example, metal fabrication has a higher percentage of people working in small companies than other manufacturing areas. As a result, they find it hard to maintain a skilled workforce, impacting production rates and customer delivery.

What is metal fabrication?

Metal fabrication is the manufacturing process of building metal structures and machines by bending, cutting, assembling, and conjoining them from raw metal materials. The fabrication process typically starts with creating a functional design for a metal product using computer-aided design and manufacturing programs and ends with a finished functional product.

Why young people should choose a metal fabrication Apprenticeship

Technology plays a significant role within the manufacturing industry. For example, if someone is a technology enthusiast and wants to build something they are proud of – a career in metal fabrication could be the right choice.

Metal fabrication can offer the satisfaction of building something that make a lasting impact on people's lives. It can also allow people to work on advanced technologies such as robotics and 3D printing. Most importantly, it's a field where you can feel free to unleash creativity, make the best use of problem-solving skills and collaborate with like-minded people on exciting projects.

What are the benefits of an Apprentice metal fabricator?

It's much easier to develop the talent you have brought in early than to recruit people who have grown up with a different value system. Apprenticeships are coming into their own and are no longer seen as second best to academic routes into university.

Apprentices contribute to businesses; they work whilst training and provide stability for large and small companies.

Apprenticeships now cover more than 170 industries and 1,500 job roles from entry to degree level. It allows organisations to inject some youthful talent and bring a whole new dimension to their workplace. It increases productivity and is a cost-effective way to do so. In addition, 78% of employers said apprenticeships helped them improve productivity ( It also helps tackle skill gaps by having an apprentice take over as senior metal fabricators retire. Hiring an apprentice Metal Fabricator will ensure that companies get precisely the knowledge, skills, and behaviours they need while growing a talented and engaged workforce.

A survey said that 74% of companies surveyed found that apprentices tended to be more loyal than non-apprentices. As Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes, the training is 'on the job', which is at times to suit the employer and the apprentice, minimising disruption, and maximising business impact.

What are the benefits of taking part in a metal fabricator Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship gives people the chance to gain hands-on experience and learn skills that benefit them while earning a wage whilst learning. In addition, Apprenticeships allow people to gain tangible work experience whilst gaining valuable qualifications that will help them advance in their careers.

Metal Fabricator EPA

We are approved to deliver Metal Fabricator End Point Assessment. By choosing NOCN Group as your EPAO, you will receive an allocated EPA point of contact and a 7 working day turn-around of results.