Skills Shortages in Manufacturing
5 June 2017
The Manufacturing industry in Scotland is at a critical crossroad in its lengthy history. Brexit, new technologies and an ageing workforce each present their own obstacles to businesses within the sector. Companies must dramatically change their operations or risk falling behind and losing out on the best talent.
Audit, tax and consulting firm RSM recently published a survey of decision makers across the UK. Their findings can be put simply: recruiting and retaining talent is now a top risk facing manufacturers. Although many businesses are already investing in strategic growth and diversifying their income streams, it may not be enough to keep up with the pace of innovation required.
Long-standing skills threats must be addressed soon. Businesses will need to diversify their thinking when it comes to creating talent pipelines that will increase both productivity and profitability.
Brexit negotiations could well impact upon customs duty, tariffs, VAT, margins, cash flow and supply chains. That is a tremendous amount of variables for any business to consider. There is also, of course, the threat that businesses may no longer be able to recruit skilled workers from the EU. Whilst it will take two years before the UK has clarity over future arrangements, ‘wait and see’ is not an appropriate business strategy.
All areas of the Manufacturing industry are struggling to recruit – from production workers to those in sales and marketing or R&D. Without a solid plan for recruitment, businesses will struggle to remain competitive through a lack of talent.
Brexit will only serve to underline these difficulties. The supply of young trained workers is also ready slowing down. Any changes made to the ‘freedom movement’ rules could negatively impact on all areas of Manufacturing. In fact, 43% of those surveyed said that skills shortages will have a major impact on their firm, with 49% saying that people risks will pose a challenge.
Businesses need to accept change are their new employment strategy. It is crucial to set out the key skills and expertise needed to help achieve company goals and targets. Traditional approaches to recruitment will not plug the void.
There is also the question of the ageing workforce. As businesses struggle to recruit younger workers, the average age of a Manufacturing worker has soared. Three quarters of all businesses surveyed said they were concerned about this. Although the skills developed by older workers are still at the very heart of Manufacturing, there needs to be practices in place to ensure that this is not lost upon employees’ retirement. Updating production processes to ensure that all generations work together can help expertise flow between the generations.
Manufacturing firms need to ask themselves: What skills will we need in the next five to ten years and where will we source our talent from? The key is to start focusing now on preparing a skilled, capable workforce for the future. Recruitment must be a long-term solution to a very pressing problem. Roles must offer clear career development opportunities.
If you would like to discuss your recruitment needs within the Manufacturing industry, me and my team would love to help you. We can speak with confidentially about the best approach for securing talent for your business. Click the button below to see our details.
Written By Michelle McLaughlin