Expert Manufacturing Advice tailored for step-by-step implementation in the workplace. Small Manufacturers, Machine Shops and CAD Engineers improve and thrive with our hands-on help. Skills Shortage Solutions: Management, Leadership and Business Skills. Plus Training Budgets

Skills Shortage Solutions:
Management, Leadership and Business Skills. Plus Training Budgets


Management and Leadership Skills

Often for small manufacturers, every penny counts. As such, there really isn’t much scope for wasted time and money through poor decisions. Effective management and inspirational leadership are key to this, at every level of the business. Senior managers must make the best decisions necessary to lead the organisation, to ensure survival and hopefully growth.

However there are decisions to be taken at every level of the business. As such, sound management and leadership training, coupled with practical experience, is a great way to ensure the best possible decisions are likely to be taken in the interests of the organisation.


It is typical in many small manufacturing companies for the longest serving technical experts to be promoted into positions of responsibility and management. Whereas this makes sense based on their experience and knowledge, it does not necessary mean they are suddenly equipped to deal with essentially management and leadership decisions. After all, you wouldn’t normally drift into technical positions without training. Therefore for positions of responsibility and seniority, managers can benefit significantly from relevant, targeted training.

Fortunately management and leadership training is widely available at all levels, from short courses through to post graduate level. Most options are flexible and many are available on-line, as providers realise training needs to fit around everyday business.


Business Skills

Considering the information above, for small business owners and senior managers responsible for the survival and growth of the company, targeted relevant training is clearly going to be beneficial. The skills required here are just as specialist and there is more at stake. As such an investment in business skills gives you tools to plan, steer and drive the business now and in the future. Taught or online modules are widely available, as is executive coaching. In addition, the MBA (Master of Business Administration) remains a highly credible, universally accepted qualification.

Alternative ideas include the following:

  • Partnerships with complimentary organisations
  • Secondments
  • Internships
  • Consultants
  • Position rotation
  • Outsourcing tasks
  • e-learning
  • Job shadowing and observation
  • Conferences, seminars and research
  • Professional Engineering and Management Institutions


Training Budgets

All the options above have a cost attributed to them. Courses and qualifications have a clear upfront cost, whilst on-the-job training has a cost associated with the time of the trainer and trainee. It is important these costs are recognised as an investment. The return can be measured in improved productivity, clearer decision making and higher quality. This easily justifies the outlay. The best performing firms routinely demonstrate their commitment to improvement and to staff through training.

Ultimately it is an investment in the future of the business and so reduces the risks of any skills shortage. In practical terms this commitment should take the form of a training budget. This pot of money should cover all training events and employees should be aware they can draw on the budget to fund relevant activities (with appropriate approval). In exchange their commitment is in time and effort to complete the training, as well as using the new skills for the good of the company.

As mention above, the training budget should be seen as an investment. An investment necessary to safeguard against the significant skill shortage problems that can impact the business, as outlined earlier in this section. It is possible to justify and quantify the training budget. Consider the following: the cost of reduced productivity (vacancies mean others sharing increased workloads), the cost of outsourcing due to a lack of skills, the cost of buying in knowledge, the cost of slow or no products to market, the cost of poor quality and mistakes etc. The fact is the cost of not training is considerable.

Unfortunately it is often hidden. Justifying a training budget in financial terms is possible if estimates can be attributed to the examples above. What’s more, as an outlay it offers a considerable return on investment in financial terms, by ensuring the businesses is more robust and resilient and in recruiting and retaining the skills you need to survive and grow.

Of course the difficulty is money is tight for most small manufacturers. What’s more there is a whole host of competing priorities for any spare cash. That’s why any funds found for a training budget must offer value for money and yield tangible benefits. Many small manufacturers recognise the need to train, and aspire to undertake it. However there are often barriers in the way.  

Boiling Point? The skills gap in US manufacturing from Deloitte Analytics

Back to Skills Shortage is Critical 


If there is such a shortage of engineers, why aren’t engineering salaries shooting through the roof? What do you think?

We constantly hear about the skills shortage in engineering and high-end manufacturing? Well according to the laws of supply and demand, a shortage of anything should increase its value. So why aren’t engineering salaries sky rocketing as a result? Or are they? What do you think?

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