11 December 2018
With the engineer recruitment crisis continuing seemingly unabated and, in all probability, Brexit exacerbating the situation, the need to encourage more young people to study STEM subjects and subsequently pursue a corresponding career has been widely acknowledged. Whether or not such efforts ultimately prove a success remains to be seen, but in the meantime employers in the industrial sector could do much worse than to look at their existing workforces and make sure that they are achieving to
According to new research by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, UK manufacturers will have to raise their game to use their shrinking workforce better and smarter to cope in an ever-changing world of automated technologies. Business leaders will have to be more innovative in their use of the existing employees by implementing retraining schemes in key development areas such as AI and digital innovation. This must be done at speed to combat the shrinking talent pool.
Initiating a proper workforce plan - which analyses employees’ skills and where they can be used to best effect – ensures the best use of available human capital. This will become ever more important in the face of increased restrictions on EU workers post-Brexit, according to EEF’s report Reinventing the Manufacturing Workforce. A properly thought out workforce plan also helps identify those employees which will benefit most from the opportunity to retrain and up-skill in the latest digital technologies.
However only 32% of manufacturers surveyed had a workforce plan (a plan with measurable actions that align the changing needs of the business with their people strategy) in place, while almost two-thirds (64%) did not.
The report reveals that 69% of those surveyed said that the adoption of new technologies and techniques is driving the priorities of their workforce plan, while nearly half (44%) said that the introduction of new products is the main driver for change in workforce practices.
To prepare to secure the skills they need for the future a heartening 72% of businesses revealed that they are introducing or continuing to run formal apprenticeships, while half (48%) are revising their recruitment strategy to recruit workers from other industries and sectors with transferable skills.
Others are introducing or continuing with popular graduate programmes to grab the best potential talent while just over a quarter (26%) are revising their workforce plan.
Flexible ways of working have already been adopted by all but 15% of manufacturers to non-production employees and 7% to their production employees, which has helped to retain existing employees (74%) and also attract prospective employees (56%).
So, while the news isn't all bad, there is still significant room for improvement, which should not be ignored in these turbulent times.