The manufacturing market is one of continuous change and in order to keep up with the pace of this change, businesses need to invest into the constant development and upskilling of their people. Previous downturns in the manufacturing industry saw fewer people choosing engineering and manufacturing based studies and some people with experience are actively looking to transfer their skill-set to other industries. This has left a skills gap in some key areas.
As a result, the majority of the workforce sit in two distinct camps; an aging workforce who are nearing retirement, very few of which are looking to move roles, vs. people on the upward trajectory of their career who may need upskilling in some areas.
According to the Office for National Statistics (2017), the population in the UK is getting older with 18% of the workforce aged 65 and over and 2.4% aged 85 and over. In 2016 there were 285 people aged 65 and over for every 1,000 people aged 16-64 years. This is impacting the UK workforce in its entirety, but in technical industries, where certain skill-sets are hard to come by, it is further exemplified.
Despite the efforts of some businesses investing in apprenticeship schemes and developing rising talent, it will take time to close the gap.
Hard to find skills in manufacturing
Like many other sectors, some skills are highly sought-after and difficult to find. Here are two of the most difficult to find but essential skill-sets in manufacturing, where we would encourage businesses to develop talent pipelines.
- The quality of your products will directly affect customer relationships, the business’ reputation, sales and profit margins.
- Quality management systems are constantly changing and developing and in order to maintain accreditations and ultimately business from customers, you need the right people.
- Having someone in your business with the right approach to quality, who works with the wider operation will save you money by reducing non-conformances and maximising the percentage of saleable product.
Engineering and Maintenance
- A forward thinking engineering strategy and engineers that understand preventative maintenance is essential in running a successful operation.
Minimalizing downtime and ensuring you are as efficient as possible will increase the productivity of your operation and again ensure you can deliver on customer expectations.
Filling a role that requires a niche skill set
In the current market, businesses that are searching for professionals with a specific skill-set or experience may find it difficult to find the perfect candidate for the role. However, there are things you can do to increase your chances of finding the best person on the market for that role.
- Be flexible during the interview process
Going into a hiring process with an idea of the candidate you want to hire is important, but more often than not, that candidate will be employed and cannot always freely take time out of work to attend interviews. Being more flexible and offering Skype calls or Hinterview as one of the stages will give you the edge against your competition; candidates will see you as an accommodating employer and you also lessen the risk of missing out on talent through delays in the process.
- Be flexible on salary
Competitive businesses are doing a lot more to retain their best people and remuneration plays a key part in that. Being willing to negotiate on salary will give you a good chance of enticing the best people on the market, especially if they have a highly sought after, niche skill set.
- Be flexible on skill set
If you cannot move on salary, you may need to be more flexible on non-essential aspects of the candidate’s experience or skill-set. Bringing in people that need development but have the right cultural fit to the business has many advantages. You can shape them to better fit the role long-term and you usually see a high level of loyalty as they are grateful for the opportunity of personal and professional development.
How we can support
At Michael Page, we offer a range of services that can aid your recruitment efforts. Whether you are hiring for a hard-to-fill role or looking for a niche skill set, our following recruitment methods could speed up your process and reduce time to hire.
Headhunting is a great way to entice the people you want and reach out to candidates from your competitors. We can do that for you and approach each person in the right way.
Market mapping is a tool we often use at Michael Page because we have extensive experience in recruitment, we can look at the market as it stands and offer advice on your processes accordingly.
Consultation on what you want to achieve, paired with your budget and what we know about the market can help build a timeline for how long it may take to find the right person, and what you need to do as a business to get to a point of hiring.
Manufacturing in 2020
The market landscape will continue to evolve but as the uncertainty surrounding the political landscape begins to clear, both businesses and professionals are likely to be more confident in the market.
The skills shortage will remain a challenge in the sector for a few years to come as businesses develop and train people over time. Therefore, there must be an effort from businesses to look beyond the skills gap and find solutions through their current teams.
If you are a professional considering a role in manufacturing and are unsure of where to start, consider larger businesses or those with graduate and entry-level programmes in place. Furthermore, there are some businesses and industries within manufacturing that will remain relatively buoyant despite the current challenges. For example, food, consumer goods, packaging, and aerospace. Starting your career in a stable industry will ensure that you get the investment that you need to build the foundations for your career.
If you are interested in hiring talent into your manufacturing organisation, or if you are looking for a new role in the industry, get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants or submit your CV today for a confidential discussion.
Business Manager, Michael Page Engineering & Manufacturing