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Revitalising Manufacturing careers to attract talent

17/01/19 Rachael Dent Manager, Electronics & Technology


The UK has been experiencing a manufacturing resurgence as it’s recognised as a vibrant sector driving the country’s economic growth with creativity and innovative hard work continuing to symbolise the UK’s ‘Made in Britain’ mantra. 

In 2017, the manufacturing sector accounted for 10% of total UK economic output (Gross Value Added) and by March 2018 it accounted for 8% of all jobs.

With issues currently approving the Brexit agreement, manufacturing businesses have delayed some investment decisions. The latest figures from the Office of National statistics show that business investment fell by 1.1% to £47bn between the second and third quarters last year.

This was the third consecutive quarter-on-quarter fall in business investment and the first time since the recession of 2008-09 that such a prolonged squeeze on nvestment has occurred. 

Given the numerous cutting-edge technologies that are being introduced into the UK manufacturing sector under Industry 4.0, such as artificial intelligence, robotics and industrial IOT, many of which will require the creativity and technological expertise that so many younger workers crave in their work. Manufacturing businesses are now often seeking different types of engineers, such as software developers, data scientists aswell as the usual manufacturing and production engineers who can help to drive the digital revolution forward and advance the UK’s economic progress. 

However, while many businesses have been enjoying an uplift in orders, especially within the high-technology area, the manufacturing sector faces its biggest skilled worker shortage in 30 years. In fact, The British Chamber of Commerce said that out of 6,000 employers surveyed, 81% of manufacturers reported they struggled to recruit skilled staff towards the end of 2018.

The UK’s employment rate currently stands at its highest since 1971, at a time where net migration from the EU has fallen to a six-year low, leading to employers across the UK experiencing difficulties finding and hiring new staff.

Rachael Dent, Redline's Manufacturing & Operations Manager discusses what employers should be doing to secure the right manufacturing talent. 

The UK’s manufacturing arena drives more innovation than many other sectors providing significant opportunities for young technical talent to be involved in relevant, technological projects that have the potential to have a lasting economic effect. 

Manufacturers are increasingly integrating new technologies in both products and processes and are at the cutting edge of 3D printing, advanced robotics and the internet of things solutions. In addition, organisations are now using technologies like artificial intelligence, advanced analytics and machine learning to increase operating efficiency and output, while offering new learning opportunities and on-the-job training for employees to help them increase their skill set. 

Provide technology-driven opportunities 

 In modern-day manufacturing, many manual jobs have been replaced with automated machine learning and an understanding of these features often requires advanced knowledge of technology. It is crucial to remember that millennials don't use technology, they grew up with it and therefore it is an integral part of their lives. This makes them the ideal candidates for the tech-focused developments in manufacturing. Furthermore, companies can benefit from this generations knowledge to develop communication processes such as social media channels within the business.

Invest in education

One of the biggest threats to the manufacturing industry is the decrease in skilled labour. To combat this whilst also driving recruitment, many companies could look towards a short-term investment in education or training potential workforces. By choosing to provide in-house training academies or investing in scholarship opportunities to educate the next generation of engineers, machinists and programmers, the manufacturing industry could see a huge drive in recruitment and a perception shift for those who have never considered a role in manufacturing before.

Visibility on career progression

In the past, manufacturing was considered a hands-on career. However, as digital transformation disrupts the market, several career options have opened to skillsets outside of the norm. Careers in sales and marketing, alongside the engineering roles within manufacturing, are opening opportunities for diverse skillsets, meaning the career path is always flexible and continuously stimulating.

Organisations that clearly lay out a career roadmap, supported by robust learning and development opportunities, provide a sense of confidence and purpose to an employee – even before they are hired by a company. It allows them to relate to the career path better and assess whether the company is the right choice.

With the increase in digitisation and automation, more manufacturing businesses than ever are looking to introduce or extend their use of digital technologies, however not all companies have personnel with these skills. 

Some of Redline’s clients have been responding to these challenges in several ways, including an enhanced OnBoarding process and increasing training programmes to retain staff.

Specialising in the selection of both permanent, contract and interim manufacturing engineering professionals throughout the UK and Europe. Redline recruits manufacturing engineers who typically design, implement, monitor and maintain manufacturing processes ensuring the product is produced in the most efficient and cost-effective way. 

For a full breakdown of the typical Manufacturing & Operations Recruitment handled by Redline, click here.

To find out more about careers in manufacturing or to see our latest job opportunities, please click here or alternatively contact Rachael Dent on 01582 450054 or email