Manufacturing experts back call for ‘demand-led education’

North West accountancy firm Moore and Smalley has given its backing to a ‘Manifesto for Manufacturing’ which calls for radical changes to the education system to boost skills.

The report, compiled by the Manufacturing Group at MHA, the national association of independent accountants, calls on government to move towards ‘demand-led education’ to help the sector bridge the current skills gap.

Businesses contributing to the report recommendations believe secondary and tertiary education needs to be re-focused away from ‘abstract academic targets’ towards skills needed by employers.

The recommendations in the report, which will be sent to politicians of every political persuasion ahead of the 2015 election, are designed to put the case for increasing the support given to the manufacturing and engineering sector by whichever party forms the next government.

Ginni Cooper, head of the manufacturing team at Moore and Smalley, which is one of nine MHA members, said: “The UK has made some significant steps in re-establishing manufacturing as a mainstream economic activity, but unless our schools, colleges and universities start to produce young people in large numbers with the skills and motivation to become engineers and technicians, our ability to compete in the global market will be severely limited.

“Demand-led education is an obvious way to help achieve this. Instead of targeting our schools to achieve abstract academic targets we should as a nation, look at what we need by way of a future workforce and challenge our schools to meet that need. In simple terms, it’s about educating our young people in the skills which employers want now, and in the future.” The report also recommends changes to the tax system to encourage investment and innovation as well as a more consistent delivery of government support across the UK to encourage things such as exports and re-shoring of production into the UK.