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Recruitment in the UK Manufacturing sector in 2017

10/02/17 Laura Preston - DipRM Manager, Contract & Interim

2016 has been one of the most turbulent years of the 21st century for the manufacturing sector. However, it’s impressive that UK Manufacturers have stepped up to the challenge and are coping with remarkable resilience. Some UK manufacturing companies have grasped the unexpected opportunity presented by the post-Brexit drop in the £ to boost their exports, while some have benefited from their products becoming suddenly more competitive against overseas suppliers, thus increasing their sales in the UK OEMs. But what does this mean for recruitment in the UK’s manufacturing sector in 2017?

The UK Manufacturing Report 2017 sponsored by Columbus, Dell, Intel, and Barclays is based on UK companies surveyed between August and September 2016. The report found the burning issues of skills and education are still a growing concern amongst manufacturers and their inability to hire the volume people with the right experience, talent and skills. What was most revealing was in addition to not being able to find skilled candidates, respondents also believed that there are not enough young people available who are interested in careers in manufacturing. The reasons behind this were blamed on the government and the education system in the UK.  As a result, the report predicts that many companies will suffer the consequences in the coming years as older workers retire, and the vacuum of talent becomes more apparent.

Further reports including the Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing report in January 2017 highlighted that Britain’s manufacturers ended 2016 on a strong note, and the survey signalled the fastest growth in the manufacturing jobs sector for more than two years and echoed that the weak pound had boosted exports.

This defied economists’ prediction of a slowdown, the manufacturing sector in fact enjoyed stronger expansion and a pick-up in orders from home and abroad in December 2016. But cost pressures persisted as the pound’s weakness since the referendum continued to make raw material imports more expensive.

Manager, Contracts & Interim, Laura Preston at Redline Group has witnessed many industry changes over the last few years in his career in both the manufacturing and operation industry aswell as the manufacturing recruitment sector. We asked Laura for his thoughts of the growing concerns affecting recruitment in the UK’S Manufacturing sector. Laura comments: “People, training and skills are the key issues affecting the UK’s manufacturing sector, as well as economic growth concerns as the weak pound stokes inflation and Brexit negotiations make consumers and businesses nervous about spending. If the UK is to equip itself to capitalise on new opportunities and prosper, it needs a skilled and diverse workforce, reinforced by good practices. To achieve this, manufacturing companies and the government must press ahead and deal with prioritising areas such as skills, education, and access to both British and foreign talent.”

“Education will enable the manufacturing industry to flourish and provide a pipeline of young people with the right STEM foundations. I have witnessed the awareness of the opportunities a career in manufacturing can offer has diminished over the past decade and the industry and government need to unite and create a strategy which targets career options that exist within the sector. Manufacturing jobs require a multitude of specialist skills such as science, engineering and technical skills which are becoming increasingly difficult to find.”

Laura continued “At Redline, via our Knowledge-led approach, we always encourage clients to reinforce good business practices as it is a common issue manufacturing companies continue to face. Staff retention and ongoing recruitment should always be at the forefront of any manufacturing company’s management strategy. Our advice is that once businesses have recruited, it is crucial to concentrate on retention, with the introduction of flexible working hours and incentives, with clear career progression which will foster the engagement and contentment of the professional manufacturing workforce. In the long run, this will provide further opportunities and support economic growth. As the manufacturing sector continues to struggle with a skills gap, we encourage the workforce of today to train the workforce of tomorrow to ensure that the best possible candidates are available to fill the all-important manufacturing, production engineering and supply chain jobs of the future. The imperative to demonstrate that manufacturing jobs offer an exciting and rewarding career has never been stronger.”

To find out more about operations, manufacturing, quality jobs and careers in supply chain or to see our latest job opportunities, please click here or alternatively contact Laura Preston on 01582 878823 or email LPreston@RedlineGroup.Com.