Ranking higher than technology, testing procedures and financial investment, 80% of British manufacturers agree that skilled workers are the most important factor for achieving quality across the supply chain. Yet almost half of respondents said they find they it difficult to develop these skills amongst their workforce, with many predicting the problem to worsen over the next five years.

Many are turning to in-house training rather than sourcing talent from further education, as access to skilled workers is causing the biggest barrier to quality for one in five UK manufacturers. 46% of respondents said they prefer to train staff on the job rather than recruit using apprenticeships (26%) or universities (11%). However, 30% believe the lack of access to skilled workers will be problematic in the next five years, putting the future of quality manufacturing at risk.

Three quarters said they would consider hiring from abroad if they were unable to source the best quality product skills in the UK, however, respondents still strongly believe that the UK develops the third-best quality skills in the world after Germany and Japan.

Sam Bailey, sales & marketing director of the Professional Division of Miele in GB, commented: “Our research highlights how inextricably linked skilled workers are to quality across every element of the supply chain. UK manufacturers need to be proactive to identify and address skills shortages to maintain the quality of their products and ensure UK manufacturing can thrive well into the future. As a brand with quality at its core, Miele has 250 colleagues throughout the world whose work is focused solely on quality. The importance of a skilled workforce should not be underestimated and is crucial to achieving trust amongst your customer base and business growth in the saturated market.”