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Manufacturers must re-evaluate recruitment process or suffer continued skills shortage

“As with all things in business, you get what you pay for,” commented Bartlay. “Time and again we hear from customers that generalist agencies are sending sub-par candidates that do not fit the exact requirements of the production floor. This is because there are so many bottlenecks between operations, HR and the third party agency that the processes take too long and it becomes frustrating.”

Although the industry is on track for long-term growth, UK manufacturing confidence fell in June for the first time in 14 months according to the BDO Optimism Sub-Index. Increased operational expenses were highlighted as a driver, as well as rising wage costs, thanks in the main to a shortage of skilled employees.

Bartlay said, “Companies are spending too much time and money miscommunicating their needs, and it tars the recruitment industry as a whole. Also, there’s no time to waste in a growing industry.

“Most HR departments do a great job – but they are not on the floor. The same goes for generalist recruiters, who do not know the industry enough to find and place the right staff at the right time. They do not understand the exact requirements of the Production Manager when it comes to skills gaps, and with the industry growing, these gaps will get wider,” she added.

Bartlay continued, “Companies go to agencies to save time and money and ensure they get a better result than if they advertised, interviewed and trialled people themselves. Production Managers do not have the time to do this, despite having the knowledge, and generalist agencies with little or no experience in that specific industry, tend to underestimate the importance of experience, and of course the skills and attributes that the employer is looking for."

“Manufacturers should look for a recruiter that knows their industry intimately they know skill requirements, processes and procedures involved, the machinery used on the floor, and also regulations such as health and safety requirements. They also know what a candidate is expected to be paid based on qualifications, skills, experience, location, and of course the current state of the market,” she said.

Bartlay concluded, “My advice would be to look for a third party with a vast database of candidates who have been pre-screened, interviewed and checked out already. In many cases with big orders, and seasonal swings, time is of the essence, and getting that team of highly specialised staff is critical to meet lead times.”


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