HR issues in British Manufacturing are looming large. Britain’s manufacturers are facing the biggest shortage of skilled workers since 1989. The UK has record levels of employment and falling numbers of EU nationals coming to the country to work since the Brexit vote. The recruitment difficulties come as the UK employment rate stands at the highest level since 1971, while unemployment is at its lowest since 1975, making it harder for companies to hire new workers without offering higher wages.
A massive 80% of manufacturers struggled to hire the right employees in the final months of 2018. This shortage isn’t restricted to manufacturing with 70% of service sector firms reporting similar difficulties finding employees with the right qualifications and experience.
Net migration from the rest of EU to the UK has slumped to a 6 year low. The weaker pound has made it less attractive for foreign nationals to come to Britain to work, while Brexit has also raised the prospect of tougher immigration rules in future.
Production in the manufacturing sector hit its fastest pace of growth in six months in December as firms stockpiled in preparation for potential border holdups in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Create a better candidate experience
Putting yourself in the job seekers’ shoes with a focus on treating them like a unique individual (or the customer). Candidates expect ease when searching and applying for positions. Not being able to do this on a smartphone, for example, has become a huge barrier to entry. Organisations that treat candidates as individuals and potentially valuable employees from the beginning of the recruiting process have a number of advantages. When statistics show that nearly 50% of job applicants never get any response after submitting an application, even something as simple as managing the rejection process can help your organisation’s credibility.
Court women recruits
One of the most problematic HR issues in British Manufacturing is that in 2018, just 12% of engineers and technicians were women. Manufacturing employers taking a more active role in sector wide initiatives to attract female recruits will potentially see an upturn in applications.
- Ada Lovelace Day celebrates women in STEM, held annually on the second Tuesday of October. The day is commemorated by a live event, Ada Lovelace Day Live!, where women are encouraged to share stories, comedy sketches or musical pieces with a STEM focus. The day includes events around the world, and men and women alike are encouraged to write about women in STEM on a public platform – via social media, blogging or in print. Employers in the manufacturing sector proactively looking to engage in such events will see themselves ahead of the curve in recruiting employees.
- The Women’s Engineering Society (WES)holds conferences celebrating women in engineering, including their International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) on 23 June each year. The society also offers a mentoring programme for women in STEM and holds an annual awards scheme, WE50, recognising 50 influential women in engineering. WES celebrates its centenary year in 2019. Employers in the manufacturing sector can do much to support such initiatives and in so doing, raise their profile to potential recruits. For example, sponsoring an award, exhibiting at a conference, taking part in mentoring projects are all positive steps
If employers can’t recruit talent, they need to focus on retaining the talent that they already have. In a survey conducted by Deloitte, manufacturing employers reported that the most serious skill deficiencies of their current employees are:
- Technology and computer skills at 70%
- Problem-solving skills at 69%
- Basic technical training at 67%
- Math skills at 60%
The skills gap helps trigger a succession gap that can disrupt business continuity. Investing in existing employees, and tying employees in to protect your investment is a sensible solution to this expensive but needed resolution to HR issues in British manufacturing
Adopt a flexible approach
Millennials grew up in a world that’s not restricted by physical location. They’re used to chatting to friends on the other side of the world, to being constantly connected and to using technology to accommodate all their needs. Leading tech companies like Google and Facebook embrace this by allowing employees work from home or by offering flexible work hours.
This generation is less keen on boundaries. As a group, they’re more likely to measure work by output than by the hours they put in. They demand a work-life so offering flexible options can help you attract and retain them.
Are you strugging with HR issues in British Manufacturing? Would you like to speak to someone in confidence about your obligations as an employer? Call us on 01706 565332 or drop us an email and we’ll get right back to you.
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.