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by Sofia Villegas
07 March 2024
New digital tool aims to bridge the manufacturing skills gap

The First Minister Humza Yousaf, NMIS chief executive Chris Courtney and several apprentices outside the NMIS facility

New digital tool aims to bridge the manufacturing skills gap

A new digital tool will streamline recruitment processes and aim to encourage young people to join the manufacturing sector, it is claimed. 

The platform, named the Pre-Approved Talent scheme, will provide a list of potential candidates to fill vacancies within the industry.

The platform is being developed by the Manufacturing Skills Academy (MSA) at the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) with help from Skills Development Scotland.

It is hoped the tool will fix the talent pipeline and help those seeking apprenticeships and graduate roles. 

The manufacturing sector employs almost 170,000 people across Scotland, yet it is amongst the industries most likely to report a skills gap, according to the latest results for Scotland from the UK Employer Skills Survey. 

The online tool aims to provide opportunities for those who have been rejected by larger companies to be recruited by SME’s which often lack the resources to raise awareness on vacancies, according to the NMIS.

Dr Avril Thomson, head of skills programmes at the MSA, said: “The demand for manufacturing and engineering skills is on the rise and we have a pool of enthusiastic young people who want to get into jobs across the sector. At the moment, however, we’re seeing a gap where smaller businesses struggle to find the right people despite the fact that hundreds are applying for positions at larger companies.”

According to a report by WorldSkills UK, more than 80 per cent of young people report facing barriers to entering manufacturing, with almost half stating they were unaware of why or how to do so,

Thomson added: “The Pre-Approved Talent scheme will support both candidates and potential employers. Candidates will be hand-picked, and the employers will have the reassurance from another company that they are suitable for the role. By offering a matchmaking-style service we hope to speed up and simplify the recruitment process and encourage more talent into the sector.”

The tool will allow SMEs to access a talent pool of those rejected by larger companies and let users sort candidates by geographical location and qualifications.

The announcement also follows recent research by Barclays revealing that two-thirds of UK SMEs struggle to recruit young workers. 

Four large organisations and 20 SMEs have partnered with the MSA to trial the online platform across the central belt.

If successful, the platform could be rolled out across the UK and into other sectors. 

NMIS is operated by the University of Strathclyde. It is supported by the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Island Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Renfrewshire Council and the Scottish Funding Council.

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