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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Feb-18 > Today’s Manufacturing Workforce Challenge

Today’s Manufacturing Workforce Challenge

Talented people are the backbone of every successful business. As the UK faces up to potentially dramatic changes in its economic landscape and the risks and opportunities that flow from new technologies, it has never been more important for manufacturing companies to have access to a sustainable supply of recruits with the right skills and to develop their current workforce with the skills necessary to translate business strategy into the healthy returns that fuel our prosperity.

But in manufacturing there’s a problem. The UK faces a critical shortfall in the supply of the engineering skills our businesses need. According to EEF research, 73% of manufacturers say they struggle to recruit skilled people and that access to technical skills is a particular challenge. Their experience is borne out by the research. Engineering UK’s 2016 report points to an annual shortfall of 29,000 people with level 3 skills and 40,000 with level 4+ skills and doubts our education system will be able to meet forecast demand for skilled engineers and technicians by 2022. If UK manufacturers are to succeed in fiercely competitive global markets, we need a solution that not only responds to the current backlog of demand but can meet future needs more effectively by re-training our current workforce and bringing people with the right skills into the recruitment marketplace when and where our employers need them.

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In Prospect’s February 2018 issue: John Naughton, James Ball, Yuan Ren, Hannah Jane Parkinson and Houman Barekat outline the ways in which our lives are controlled by big tech giants. Naughton argues that Facebook and Google have created a new “surveillance capitalism” in which they battle to grow user engagement of their products and monetise our lives for their own gain as they do so. The cover package also explores how “bots,” fake social media accounts, influenced the US presidential vote and the Brexit referendum as well as the effects of removing net neutrality in the US. Elsewhere in the issue: Samira Shackle asks what happens to ordinary civilians affected by Islamic State as they attempt to move back to their homes and rebuild their lives; Shahidha Bari asks whether we can continue to appreciate the work of actors, filmmakers and writers who have been disgraced; and Christine Ockrent profiles Michel Barnier.