Manufacturers find recruitment challenge easing

The employment picture is on the whole looking a little healthier, with manufacturers across the board reporting an easing of recruitment pressures with more vacancies being filled than at any point in the last two years.

However, Britain’s manufacturers are still facing the long-term skills challenges which have held businesses back from growing to their full potential for the last few years, according to Make UK’s Q2 HR Bulletin. Just over 65% of companies could not find candidates with the right technical skills needed for the roles advertised, while 31.9% of those questioned told us that they were also struggling to find people with the right qualifications.

The brighter recruitment landscape is through to be as a result of a combination of reasons -with companies citing better staff retention and older workers coming back into the workforce as a contributary factor. Sickness absence has come down and is combined with lower pressure on pay demands, although 33% of businesses told us they had increased pay to the new national living wage level.

More companies than ever have reported that they have fully embraced flexible working for their staff which is helping significantly with retention.

Jamie Cater, Make UK’s Employment policy lead said: “While manufacturers report an easing of immediate labour shortages, long-term skills challenges remain. The Government has made welcome improvements to the apprenticeship system in recent months – not least additional funding to support high-value manufacturing courses and reduce barriers faced by SMEs.

“However, there remains further to go, and a full review of the apprenticeship system – with the goal of restoring the number of manufacturing apprentices to its pre-levy high and further reducing the number of vacancies in the sector – must be a priority.”

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