A common theme from much contemporary research and employer sentiment within the sector has been the shortage of skills available to employers looking to recruit.
Whilst these figures reflect positively in terms of the economic environment the sector is in with employment levels increasing and industry sentiment up, the lack of available staffing is preventing many employers from competing and in many cases expanding their operations. Technical and practical skills that are no longer taught to the same degree in schools coupled with the still poor sector image makes for a tough recruitment environment.
The latest job seeker figures for people seeking employment as sewing machinists (although many occupations across the board show similar patterns) starkly illustrates how this situation is currently being exacerbated as employment across the wider UK economy grows.
Figure 1: Job Seekers Allowance claimants by sewing machinst as sought occupation
In January 2013, 1,420 people were claiming job seekers allowance whilst looking for work as sewing machinists. Now, in October 2015, this has fallen to 375, the lowest level recorded during this period and part of a wider pattern of declining skilled labour resource at the sectors disposal.
The figures do not show what employment claimants who successfully find employment go onto do; however, the increasing demand for staff along with the continuing dwindling of an available pool of sewing machinists shows the immediacy of the skills crunch in the sector.