Manufacturing Employment Survey

2 mins read

A survey from Manufacturing Management and Manpower analysing the current manufacturing job market and offering insights into the problems facing manufacturing employers and how they're being overcome.

Clearly, when asked if they are paid more or less than their market value, few people are going to say more. However, the fact that this many respondents believe they are paid less than they are worth suggests a widespread dissatisfaction among senior manufacturing managers.

Many sectors at all levels have suffered from wage stagnation in recent years, with real terms wage growth failing to match increased costs of living - something that has been exacerbated by recent spikes in inflation. Plainly manufacturing is no exception in this regard and, despite 81.5% of respondents having seen their salaries rise, this is clearly not sufficient to make a majority feel they are being properly rewarded.

The survey

It's no coincidence, therefore, that a similar number to those who express dissatisfaction with their current remuneration would also consider moving to another part of the engineering or manufacturing sector. Engineering is a highly transferable skill and it is in demand regardless of sector - particularly when combined with proven management experience. Manufacturers will need to be conscious of this threat if they are to retain their existing skilled, senior personnel.

This statistic is one that will surprise few in manufacturing and engineering. The shortage of suitably skilled young people entering engineering is one that has dogged British manufacturing for at least 40 years. The pipeline of talent is malfunctioning will tell you that those emerging from university with engineering degrees are still far from being fit for the real world of manufacturing and require extensive in-job training before they are.

Now one could write many thousands of words on the reasons for this problem and methods of addressing it. However, it is too easy simply to blame schools and universities for the problem and manufacturers need to look closely at exactly what it is they are doing to address it. Greater involvement with schools and universities to ensure that young people are both being directed towards manufacturing and engineering and being taught the right skills is something some manufacturers do - but sadly all too few.

And, with 54% of respondents saying they had more than 20 years of experience of the sector - and many with significantly more - this problem is now extremely urgent.

View from Manpower

Damien Lee, Director of Engineering for Manpower

Essentially, the candidate market is becoming more complex. Candidates are in the driving seat and their primary motivator is - unsurprisingly - compensation. Manu candidates have multiple offers, the market is awash with counter offers and the negotiation period is growing longer, causing real issues for hiring employers. Over the past couple of years, we have seen inflation run out of control and this has led to the rapid rise in compensation packages, and a number of companies simply cannot keep pace. But it's important to note that salary is not the only driver for candidates. ManpowerGroup's research finds that work-life balance, flexibility and development opportunities are increasingly at the top of candidates' must-have lists.

Employers across the board (in all sectors) are increasingly looking beyond their traditional talent pools to fill their skills shortages. Soft skills are in high demand (while hard skills can be taught) so manufacturers need to be aware of the threat of talent poaching from other sectors - not just their typical competitors - looking for transferrable skills.

It's important to note also that despite the above challenges in finding talent with the required skills, our research shows 40% of employers in Industrials & Materials still expect to hire in the coming quarter. There's a mismatch between businesses' recruitment intentions and the available skilled talent pool. Demand for talent consistently outweighs supply.

In other countries, the problem is tackled with options to study at technical colleges from an earlier age, thereby developing skills much sooner. The UK needs investment in fast-track apprenticeship schemes in order to start to fill the required pipeline of new engineering and manufacturing talent.

Read the full report by going to: