Manufacturing companies at risk of a talent drain

LONDON, 25 February 2013 – Britain’s manufacturing industry is being held back by the ongoing talent shortage of technical and engineering expertise, however while companies are struggling to fill their talent bucket, many are also overlooking the importance of holding onto their current talent pool. 
According to the 2013 Michael Page Engineering & Manufacturing Salary Survey more than half of respondents (56%) don’t think their company is doing enough to retain top talent, which has risen 12% on 2012 results. 
Colin Monk, managing director, Michael Page Engineering & Manufacturing said these results are concerning as a skill shortage is often one of the biggest reasons why a product is delayed or fails. 
“Manufacturing companies’ biggest priority this year is growing their business. Over the past couple of years, the focus has been on reducing costs and streamlining processes to maintain profit, however companies are now in a position to get back in the game. Losing staff in this skill short market, means losing skills and capabilities and ultimately the ability to deliver products,” Mr Monk said. 
The good news for engineers across the UK is that salaries are on the rise, with 79% of employers expecting to pay their staff salary increases this year. 
However, while this is a positive reflection of the health of the industry, ranking 12% above Michael Page UK’s cross-industry average, companies need to consider whether this alone will be enough to keep their staff. 
“Our research revealed that only 12% of candidates will stay for a salary increase alone. In fact, most (56%) employers believe that creating a positive work environment, followed by promotion opportunities (17%) were the most effective retention strategies.” 
“We find that increasingly such initiatives as promoting good handover relationships, clarity of vision by senior management and a consistent, open promotion strategy all help to create this all so important positive work environment,” he said. 
Expectations to increase permanent headcount is down 7% on 2012 results, with only 47% of employers saying it will grow in the next 12 months. Unsurprisingly, aerospace, energy and automotive were the top three sectors for business growth, all benefiting from recent investments by large players. 
While the top three job types most in demand by employers are in the areas of production, project and quality. 
“What came through very clearly in our survey was that respondents were actively pursuing new markets. Clearly organisations are getting ever-more innovative, diversifying their customer base through increasing product range, but employing similar manufacturing technology to achieve this,” Monk added. 
Notes to editors: 
Media contact 
Sophie Tudor, Communications Executive, PageGroup
T: 020 3077 8177
Business trends
  • Most respondents (56%) don’t think their company is doing enough to retain top talent, up 12% on 2012 results
  • 70% of respondents said that technical ability was the most important factor in deciding whether or not to hire a candidate, followed by common values with an organisation
  • Relevant work experience (42%) was the most important quality that engineering candidates lacked, followed by the right attitude to work (35%), and interview preparation (12%)
  • Relationship with a recruitment agency is believed to be the most important strategy for attracting top talent to a business according to 40% of respondents, followed by word of mouth (28%), and employer branding (22%)
  • More than half (56%) of respondents said a positive work environment is the most effective retention strategy, followed by promotion opportunities (17%) and salary increases (12%)
Recruitment activity
  • 37% of respondents said they have plans to hire temps, while a further 22% said they were unsure, and 41% said they didn’t have any current plans
  • 85% of respondents said that their company recruited engineering and manufacturing professionals in 2012
  • Production engineers were hired most (36%) in 2012, followed by quality/technical engineers (22%) and project engineers (24%)
Salary Insights
  • The majority of respondents (60%) expect their company to pay bonuses, with a further 14 % unsure
  • 79% of employers expect to pay salary increases over the next year; 12% above PageGroup’s cross-industry average
About Michael Page Engineering & Manufacturing
Michael Page Engineering & Manufacturing has teams based across 12 UK locations dedicated to recruiting mid to senior level temporary and permanent professionals within the manufacturing sector. The consultative approach we apply to our client relationships, combined with our international network spanning 34 countries has assured that we have long been recognised as one of the global leader in this market and enables us to source talent for roles in the UK from both the domestic market and overseas.