As the UK manufacturing sector continues to gain momentum, many organisations are confident that the back to back quarters of single digit growth will see them in a position to grow. With the exception of a small number of industries, including oil and gas, most industries are now increasing headcount. SMEs have been the first to the market with large multinational companies following. Two notably active multinationals are Jaguar Land Rover and Airbus UK, both of whom are playing a significant role in the resurgence of the automotive and aerospace sectors respectively.

Talent attraction and retention

A constant consideration for all top talent is progression; whether driven by salary or position. If an employer cannot meet these requirements, individuals will look to move to an employer that can. Over the last two years, despite growth within the industry employees were still nervous and seeking security in their role. Now candidates are slowly becoming more confident, employees are looking to meet their progression goals and are open to moving in order to do so. Those individuals in highly sought after roles are finding the prospect of a move especially appealing as they can significantly improve both salary and position.

The top five job types sought after by employers:

  1. Technical/engineering buyer: shortage due to a lack of succession planning and investment.
  2. LCC (Low Cost Country) sourcing specialist: only a very small number of businesses invest in buyers to visit LLC suppliers, thus very few professionals gain the necessary experience to fulfil this role.
  3. Demand/ S&OP manager: organisations are becoming more aware they can drive efficiencies and run lower inventory levels if they give a more accurate demand and a reliable forecast.
  4. Senior buyer: there is a shortage of the labour market choosing purchasing as a profession, primarily driven by a lack of understanding of what the profession entails.
  5. MP&L manager: the majority of the automotive market is based in the Midlands, with the remaining NW talent being attracted to either JLR or outside the sector. 
In response to market conditions, it is advisable to plan ahead. Organisations need to map out recruitment needs and engage early with market specialists in order to understand what type of talent is available at what cost and who is the sector is competing to attract similar skill sets. Understanding the market will allow you to target the strongest possible candidates and act swiftly when you are ready to engage in the external market place. 
By benchmarking potential candidates, clients will be able to formulate expectations and outline their ideal candidate.  This will help to avoid protracted campaigns and reduce time to hire where necessary. 
As the market grows and candidate demand increases, shortages will present a significant issue to companies looking to hire. We always recommend that from the very first stage of the recruitment process an employer does everything they can to sell the role to the candidate. A top candidate needs to be convinced that a role is perfect for them. Clients also need to be as flexible as possible. Good candidates will usually have more than one job opportunity so time is precious. You may need to act quickly and make concessions based on the candidate’s time frame. 

Candidate trends in the current market 

The last 12 months has seen the performance and return on investment of procurement and supply chain functions continue to be challenged as businesses unrelentingly strive for better margins, cash flow and inventory efficiency.  Additionally, there has been a further tightening around the availability of high calibre candidates within the procurement and supply chain field. 
While candidate flow and applications for roles are healthy (7% higher than at this point last year), the war for talent continues to heat up. Analysis of the market over the past 12 months has highlighted that almost four in five candidates who receive a job offer are subsequently counter offered by their existing employer. Information gathered from the market as a whole shows that two of these four candidates do not take up their new job offer and choose to stay where they are. Our own clients have seen a higher success rate of three in four accepting and starting in their new roles. While we play a major part in managing this risk on behalf of our clients, this ongoing trend serves to highlight the challenge of not only identifying and attracting the right talent but also having the right information, process and proposition to secure them. 
The main drivers for making career moves continue to be the ability to have an impact in the role, progression, financial reward and personal development. July 2015 saw the launch of our Salary Comparison tool which can help with managing the risk of losing talent based on salary. This online tool uses placement data to allow employers to benchmark the salaries they’re offering. 
As employers continue to evolve their structure, succession plan and progression opportunities, this data can hold valuable insight. For more tailored information in your local market, we would welcome a conversation. 

Salary comparison – gender pay gap

PageGroup recently ran an in-depth analysis into the gender pay gap at senior levels, presenting the results in an interactive graph. Among the occupations where at least 70% of jobs are held by men, managers and directors in manufacturing have the largest gender pay gap. Men in the top 20% of earners make £71,075 a year, whilst women make £56,396 – almost £15,000 less than men.  
Based on this group analysis, we ran our own report for procurement and supply chain professionals. Throughout 2014 we saw that while the overall salaries clearly varied, the major common themes were that women within procurement and supply chain are currently paid less than their male counterparts by 13% which is greater than the average across all UK professions. We believe the pay gap will continue to close at an increasing rate due to competition for top specialist talent within the procurement and supply chain sector as well as a renewed focus on the anomaly by the current government. 

Looking ahead

On the back of continued growth within the manufacturing sector over the last few years, organisations are likely to continue to add to their headcount in the foreseeable future, with an estimated peak in September which is when we see a spike in activity generally from organisations who are vying to increase headcount. 
As the market improves, the shortage of quality candidates will become more apparent. As a temporary measure there will be a rise of interim and contract roles to combat the lack of high level candidates available for permanent placing. In rising markets, issues such as the buy-back and inflated candidate values add to the challenge of successful recruitment. 
Are you looking to take the next step in your procurement and supply chain career? Are you looking to hire talent? Or are you simply looking for some further advice in the current recruitment market? Feel free to contact Ben Carr, operating director at Michael Page Procurement & Supply Chain for a confidential discussion. 
T: +44 11 4 263 6026