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The challenges Boeing faces in recruiting for its new Sheffield site

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Neil Cayley, lead consultant for aerospace, defence & aviation at Jonathan Lee Recruitment, discusses the potential challenges Boeing faces in recruiting for its new manufacturing site.

The recent announcement that Boeing has been granted permission from the local council to build its manufacturing and research building in Sheffield as a part of the Catapult Programme, is positive news for the aerospace industry, with the opportunity for 30 new high skilled roles being created.

More broadly, the confirmation of a major aerospace OEM setting firmer roots in the UK represents a significant boost to the economy, particularly at a time of uncertainty following the decision to leave the European Union. 

However, whilst the UK has a rich heritage in highly skilled engineering talent, demand is outstripping supply. The skills required for the new roles at Boeing Sheffield, focused around advanced designengineering, manufacturing and CNC machining, may prove challenging to source for Boeing.

For quite some years, experts have emphasised the need to bridge this gap and highlighted that preparation for the future is vital. Skills planning, cross-training and people development are vital ingredients in the success of the aviation sector in the UK, if not the most important. Leveraging transferable skills from outside the aerospace sector also needs to be explored by employers.

The skills gap undoubtedly risks been widened with the UK’s decision to leave the EU, however we won’t know exactly how Brexit will affect skills until an agreement is firmed up.

At the Aviation Club Luncheon in July 2017, guest speaker Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary for State and Transport, discussed the future of British aviation. His belief is that further growth of British aviation will support international trade links. Brexit should not be considered as detrimental to the UK’s position in the European aviation sector, with the aviation deal remaining a top priority during Brexit negotiations.

Boeing’s investment clearly shows that the UK is an attractive place to invest and undertake high value manufacturing, despite Brexit being on the horizon. It is positive to see success of the Catapult centres, not only in Yorkshire, but all over the country. The investment will make the region a leading location for high-value advanced manufacturing and provide multiple opportunities for the UK supply chain. 

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Neil Cayley
neil.cayley@jonlee.co.uk
01384 446114

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