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Can’t Find the Staff – Skilled Workers in Short Supply


Ever since Fashion-Enter Ltd opened the Stitching Academy in collaboration with ASOS back in 2013 it has been clear, both in-house and within the UK fashion manufacturing sector, that skilled machinists and garment workers are in short supply. An apparent need to train new blood in these in-demand skills led to the opening of the Stitching Academy and subsequently the Fashion Technology Academy.

Now eight-years later with Brexit and a global pandemic to contend with a growing skills crisis has emerged across many employment sectors; from HGV drivers and security guards to chefs and butchers, companies are struggling to find the staff with the skills that they require. Indeed, Brexit and the pandemic have provided a double-edged sword with the opportunity for domestically produced products and growth on one side but with minimal skilled workers on the other.

Talking to The Sunday Times about the issue CEO of Fashion-Enter Ltd Jenny Holloway said: “We could employ 55 machinists tomorrow – the demand is so big – but I can’t get one penny from the government to help train people for me to employ. It’s ridiculous.” 

16 to 24 year-olds make up the biggest unemployed age group in the UK and it is here that the government needs to engage and encourage young people to pursue vocational careers. The last few years has seen a steady increase in young adults going to university, only to discover that most jobs on offer do not require graduate skills. 

Now as companies emerge from a series of lockdowns and are keen to ramp up their business activity these fundamental hurdles are getting in their way. Other sectors including tech, green energy and engineering are all experiencing recruitment issues along with the highly publicised HGV and bus drivers, it is nonsensical to think that so many opportunities are available with hardly any trained individuals to fill them.

The Sunday Times article compiled by Sam Chambers included a variety of voices from several industry sectors, all of which unanimously agree that government needs to step up with a more strategic approach to training and the adult education budget, and they need to do it fast to ensure UK business takes the upward turn that it desperately needs.

‘From tech to trucking, firms can’t find the staff’ by Sam Chambers featured in The Sunday Times on the 24th October 2021.

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