What UK Manufacturing needs to consider when securing the best senior talent


Recent reports from industry bodies and global consulting firms have shown the deepening gulf between demand and supply in manufacturing for talented professionals. Whilst we are all engaged with the long term consideration of fulfilling two million+ vacancies in the industry by 2022, very few people are addressing the UK’s need to raise the profile of UK manufacturing on a global level.

The UK is renowned on a global stage for engineering capability, and quality, yet somehow the talk of manufacturing inevitably steers towards BRIC economies and emerging markets rather than focusing on both the importance, evolution and digitisation of UK industry.

One major contributing factor to the challenge of securing the right talent is that, unfortunately, many people working within manufacturing promote compartmentalisation by highlighting their specific “sector” rather than being a vocal advocate of the manufacturing industry itself. UK manufacturing allows ambitious individuals to thrive with the recent EEF report showing that 2.6 Million people in UK manufacturing contribute 10% of GVA, 69% of all R&D and 44% of all exports.

As an executive recruiter and a partner in TS Grale, a firm dedicated to supporting UK Manufacturing, I have had the pleasure of meeting thousands of outstanding people over the past 20 years both domestically and internationally.

One thing has become very clear through that process; manufacturing capability is enhanced by new ideas and thought, and the very best people thrive when imprinting their knowledge into new sectors. Evolution of a business is often limited by focusing on hiring within a sector limiting their search to those with “like-for-like” experience, rather than adapting the best ideas from a broader manufacturing community or more diverse individuals.

Whilst we all appreciate the necessity of understanding products and process within our manufacturing environment, I believe it is important that the word “traditional” should not be used but rather “entrepreneurial”, “ambitious” or “evolutionary”. I have seen so much potential untapped, or undiscovered, because of an unwillingness to think differently or explore new avenues.

It is my desire, and that of my fellow business partners, that we can help support companies to take advantage of their latent capability by painting a picture of what can be offered alongside the traditional. I would like to think that all future employees, managers and executives should be proud to say “I work in UK manufacturing”.

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