Manufacturing Hot Topics - What’s the best way of recruiting young people in to manufacturing

Manufacturing Hot Topics - What’s the best way of recruiting young people in to manufacturing

 13 Jul 2018

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Speaker 1: You're listening to Manufacturing Ignition Hot Topics, bringing you right up to date on the latest trends and discussions within UK manufacturing. Sponsored by Bonfire Recruitment, helping manufacturing leaders across the UK to attract the best talent for their manufacturing company. Ignite your business or career today by visiting Here's your hosts, Terry Mallin and Scott Buchanan.


Terry: On this episode of the Manufacturing Ignition hot topic, we're going to discuss what is the best way of recruiting young people into manufacturing. What did you find Scott?


Scott: The best way of recruiting young people into manufacturing. Now, on some of the other podcasts we've looked at, we've reviewed some of the challenges facing. Was it the back end of last year that, wasn't it? October, November of last year, where we're looked at actually probable challenges facing manufacturing in 2018 and beyond. One of the things that we identified there was that the skillsets and getting both younger workers, and the female workforce involved that's part of an integral part of manufacturing as well.

Scott: I think it's certainly something, it's a huge competition, isn't it? When you're that age, it's actually trying to ... I didn't know what to do until we studied it.



Terry: I was just saying to Scott, [inaudible 00:01:34] did you know that? What did you want to be when you were in school. Let's put it out there. What did Scott Buchanan want to be when he was in school?


Scott: I used to be able to run so I wanted to be a good runner.


Terry: Mo Farah?


Scott: Not quite as good as that but you know when you're interested and I always thought when you were interested and thinking as far ahead to having the mortgage and actually wanting the nicer things that we all strive for. Do you know that way? And you have quite a unique background, you ended up, what was it you did again? You went in the Navy. Were you not?


Terry: What have I not done Scott? I always wanted to be a scientist when I was at school. Which is quite funny actually. Then I went and worked in an office. Then I went and joined the Navy and was in the Navy for five years. Then I became a fishing [inaudible 00:02:25] and then all well doing manufacturing recruiting.


Scott: This is a point, isn't it? One of the reasons I love my job, and I'm enjoying doing it. You get exposed to so many different, I was speaking to a client yesterday actually saying exactly the same thing around the beauty and the variety that we get exposed to on a daily basis within manufacturing the different skill-sets, the different challenges each organisation may be facing. And then working out solutions accordingly. So you know that way, I guess an attraction of employees to your business, even from an industry perspective into manufacturing is, here we go again, the government doing enough to attract people over. And luckily, the universities, if I go back it wasn't that long ago, maybe five years ago or so, there was no actual interaction between the university and a manufacturing organisation, or very, very little.

Scott: Do you know what we saw? We were getting candidates coming though with a good degree with good exposure to engineering or manufacturing or management and yet, they didn't have any experience level to allow them to step in and to do that. Obviously from a recruiting perspective and from the company's point of view. The Company's going, we need the experience so it's the vicious circle isn't it of the experience of someone being able to walk in and do the job versus the training, the mentoring, the development. And I guess identifying the right type and talent for that role at the younger age, do you see?

Scott: And these are all the things that are going on. And I guess if there was a bit more emphasis, and to be fair to a lot of the universities I aware of, they are now trying to work and are encouraged to work with manufacturing companies and engineering companies and the likes to make sure that's happening.


Terry: Yeah I think looking at it from, with a question of what's the best way of recruiting young people in manufacturing, last year three quarters of manufacturing companies were concerned about an aging workforce. And also a different report showed that 43 percent of companies considered skills shortages a major challenge in the sector. Putting two and two together we need to encourage more children,  young adults, teenagers to have an interest in manufacturing. You know, Scott, when I was in school, [inaudible 00:05:00] and this is at school and even up to university right? If someone says something to you about manufacturing to you, automatically what I thought was somebody standing [inaudible 00:05:09] making a product. Right? And that's what it was. Actually once you step into manufacturing you find out there's a massive opportunity there with different roles, different opportunities, different career prospects and it's a very-[crosstalk 00:05:25]


Scott: All encompassing opportunity yeah, and [crosstalk 00:05:30] we get clients actually that look at our website and look at what we do, i.e. manufacturing recruitment and assume that all we would do is production management or similar, do you know that? And don't actually appreciate that we actually cover all the technical disciplines and the skills for these. [crosstalk 00:05:50] senior management teams and quality



Terry: Finance, HR, you name it.


Scott: Manufacturing is part of it. It's exactly that, it's education. It's an educational piece actually of association.


Terry: And I thank you for wrapping up, when I think about, and this is just me personally, and I know this is probably stereotypical but stuff I heard growing is the reason why most people don't want to get into manufacturing is they probably think of it as low paying, they think of maybe tough conditions in a factory environment. As soon as you say the work factory, you automatically think like steel works or something like that.


Scott: Nothing wrong with steel works there Terry. Nothing wrong with the steel works.


Terry: No, definitely no. But you're thinking that sort of hot, flames, quite dirty type environment. When you're actually thinking of, the sixties, seventies or whatever you know. And then actually, you think of the work as being very monotonous as well. You know that's automatically what most people think. So when you're putting that together, low pay, so actually giving people an education and benchmarking against other industries. Finance, Law, IT, etc.. Manufacturing is well there, especially at a senior level. It's certainly there. I think it's more of an education. The career opportunities in manufacturing-


Scott: And that's, yeah you're right. And it's about the opportunity that's there. It's about making sure that the opportunity allows things to happen. How do you do that though Terry? How do you actually get people's awareness up around where they can go? Is it from the schools? Is it from the universities? Is it from the apprenticeship schemes? Is it from the brands and the association that actually to be, I don't know the Coca-Cola, let's do steel mill, you know an aluminium factory whereby actually the opportunities are there. I know some of the financial work that we've done whereby we get business from I guess people wanting to leave the practice and go into industry. Do you know that way? And that's where there's certainly talent there that I guess people have found they actually get bored even accountants getting bored with practice [crosstalk 00:08:15].


Terry: I think a lot of people watch program like [inaudible 00:08:22] and what they want to be is have expected of [inaudible 00:08:23]. And be the corporate lawyer that's deal with all the big boys and getting involved with everything and just being that cool guy. Where as actually you don't have that sort of comparison within manufacturing. You know, you don't have a cool TV episode that goes through manufacturing and actually the life of somebody within manufacturing. So I think to go back to the question of, what's the best way of recruiting young people into manufacturing? So firstly what we need to do is actually reverse the negative perceptions being that it's a low pay industry, that it's poor conditions and it's quite monotonous work. So if I focus on, let's go through a few stages Scott, let's go through how do in encourage those in college so more children will be interested. And possibly pursue a career in manufacturing. Teenagers, how do you encourage teenagers to tailor their education towards manufacturing. And then finally, sort or millennials which is people born within the 80s and 90s which is, Scott when were you born actually?


Scott: I'm a 70s kind a guy.


Terry: Are you? Okay so-


Scott: I'll get there. I've got a long collars don't I?[00:09:35]

Scott: Couldn't even get that could you? You didn't actually understand what I was saying there cause you're that young?


Terry: Nah.


Scott: How old are you?


Terry: I'm not really that young, I'm 31.

Terry: 1986 so I am classed as a millennial so I will be in probably the best shape to discuss how to attract me into manufacturing.


Scott: Everyone's get visions on that [inaudible 00:10:01] thinking of you.


Terry: How do we encourage more children to be interested in manufacturing? And that's probably coming at my age Scott, you know me and you both being invited to [inaudible 00:10:17] school to discuss manufacturing next month. And it got me thinking how do you spread the word in schools? And I think what is applied is most manufacturing professionals visiting schools and discussing the sector and answering questions. And possibly inviting school trips to a factory in a safe environment. And that could be anything that's sort of ground breaking from making the aircraft carriers to food factories. It's just children getting involved in that sort of stuff and see how-



Scott: You're spot on, you're absolutely spot on and it's maybe a certain type of person, and I'll never forget one of the reasons I've done this job for 11 years now is the day I was standing inside a drink factory and I'm looking at a canning machine and at that point it was only doing 75,000 can lids in an hour. And the can lids were all over the ceiling. Do you know that? And that same afternoon I'm standing at one of the naval bases, standing next to...

Scott: Sounds like Kevin's gone for a walk there, Terry or have you fallen through the window again?


Terry: No that's Kevin. He's decided to wake up. So we've got him making [crosstalk 00:11:35]


Scott: Sounds good.

Scott: Then that afternoon I'm standing next to a nuclear submarine on a naval base, which is incredible. I think there's two maybe parenting or schooling whereby it's almost beating someone over the back of the head with a stick like because you're a doctor or your dad's a doctor, you become a doctor. Or a lawyer, whatever it happens to be. And don't get me wrong, there's a place for that. But actually being able to know what alternatives are open to you, do you know that way? Is absolutely there and one of the challenges we have from a CV perspective, and we see all the time, especially at the senior level. Whereby someone has done the job for a decent length of time and then say Scott, or Terry, I want to do something different. I never actually enjoyed myself, I didn't want to be doing this but I kinda found myself in it. So if we could actually have a workforce that was wanting to be in it for the right reasons. Then there's a good chance that everything will actually be doing a lot better.


Terry: Exactly and I know there's a lot of STEM programs that are happening as well. But even just introducing some fun educational games around manufacturing that might be engineering based as well. It's actually planting some seeds. If you look at the best market and the best business globally and how they market the business. Everybody remembers going to McDonald's for their birthday party when they were younger. That was a cool thing to do. Funny enough the guy who is Ronald McDonald, what is he? He's a clown that's attractive and actually reaching out to the younger generation where what you build is brand association. And what you build is an affiliation with McDonalds. Put that together, you grow up with that brand affiliation or that business. Sort of take that model and you go there and you remember that you had parties there when you were younger and just grow up with that around. Does that make sense Scott?



Scott: No but I'm smiling here because although I was a late 70s kid, but you're right with the McDonald's and actually in my year Terry is was Wimpy. I don't know if you know of Wimpy.


Terry: I do, I do, but I remember it being garbage so, well that's my opinion anyway.


Scott: But you're right, and I know that McDonald's was a clown. But Wimpy, it was Mr Wimpy wasn't it? He was kind of a dressed up burger or similar so. Aye, association.


Terry: But as it's association. What it's doing is it's actually promoting a brand to, you know it's fast food. Children don't have any money by [inaudible 00:14:31] children to get their parents to take them there or whatever else. I'm getting off topic slightly but I think it's a valid point on the basis of actually if you have got manufacturing in front of young people and they can actually see that and be able to put that in perspective of what manufacturing look like. You're going to have a lot more buy in, not to a brand, but more buy in to this industry.


Scott: You know what it is as well Terry? A lot of the manufacturing that kids will have been seen will have been from footage taken of a different era. Alright? So the number of times association will be factory equals tens of thousands of workers grafting away to put a screw in metal or whatever it happens to be on a production line. Things have so dramatically changed from those days and most companies, not all companies, but most companies. There's a bit just making sure that there's a bit more media on the modern stuff and you have to get people interested.


Terry: 100+n, 100+n and similar for teenagers Scott. It's more about an education on the career opportunities so they can take all the right subjects


Scott: And that's on the basis of course Terry that A. The teenagers are going to school and eventually they're actually wanting to work. Cause I know when I was that age, you'd rather be having fun then thinking about what you're gonna be doing when you're 31 or whatever age you are. Cause that's probably something that even when can't fix. Aye, it's a challenge.

Terry: I don't know. Because I remember when I was in school and I was very motivated with regards to exams and whatever else. And I remember selecting key subjects. I think we got to select six subjects or something like that. And math and English was always one. But actually I picked graphical design and crafting design. Graphical design is obviously like your draftsmen and drawing [inaudible 00:16:36] and all that sort of stuff and whatever else. Designing buildings and that sort of stuff which is obviously done on CAD and whatever else these days. And the second one was crafting design which was building whatever out of metal, wood and all that sort of stuff in crafts. So literally for my exam I had to build a longship and it was literally six feet long and five feet high when you put the sail on it. It was amazing right? And you were actually bending the wood round ya.

Terry: Do you want to know what, on a flight back home when I was at school, how long ago was that 15 years right? Might've been a bit longer, 16 years ago, whatever. When I was at school, it was all very good. I wanted to do those subjects because engineering context. But actually when I reflect back on it, I had no idea what these subjects would benefit me as a career. I don't think I thought of craft and design being joiner and I never thought of graphics design being, obviously, a drafts-man. I actually put in the perspective of how that adapts in a manufacturing environment. Both these types of subjects you're building, you're repairing, you're maintaining. There should be a lot more education and the actual career prospects of the actual subjects that you pick. And obviously maths been a big one for engineering etc.. But honestly English is just as important. When you're from a senior management level and moving out to university and studying for masters and degrees and all that sort of stuff. And the amount of degrees and opportunities there is for manufacturing as well.

Terry: I think maybe it's changed Scott, maybe I'm just a wee bit behind the times but I do feel a lot more could be done to highlight.


Scott: I think there should be, we know there's bodies for representing, actually maybe it is these bodies, the EEF representing the English manufacturing some are from Scotland as well. We should have body encouraging, and maybe they are, we've just not heard of it. Encouraging-


Terry: Which I think, we're quite close to the pulse of manufacturing.


Scott: I'm thinking of any fears or what fears there would be. And the big boys and the CBE systems or your Jacobs or not Jacobs but Dyson the big companies there. [crosstalk 00:19:02]



Scott: Yeah, big companies, but actually, who's representing the SMEs or the medium sized businesses out of them? That actually could tempt them into manufacturing because I guess it's the greater good of the U.K. economy. But actually the roles would be a lot different as well than some of the big boys. There's a lot more autonomy, a lot more variety in a smaller company than there can be at a bigger company.


Scott: There's plenty to look at isn't there?


Terry: I think just to wrap up Scott, obviously the important one's millennials which is obviously people born in the 80s and 90s. Historically what I think I've seen is manufacturing companies have brought people in, put them into certain functions and then you would stay there until you get fed up or you screamed out that you wanted out.


Terry: That's stereotypical and it's generation after generation working within the same factory. Which is all good but the reality is there's a skills shortage and 43% of manufacturers says they find is a major challenge, how are they are going attract the best people? And I'll tell you why Scott, and I'll tell you why I thought about millennials is did you know, that by the year 2025, which is seven year away right?


Scott: My goodness.


Terry: Millennials will make up 75 percent of the entire workforce.


Scott: Wow. That's a scary thought isn't it? Does that mean I'll be retired then?


Terry: It's a bold statement but, see at the end of the day. I'm going to give you my view Scott, and in the end you're late 80s, late 70s.


Scott: 79.


Terry: Yeah so, how would somebody attract me in a manufacturing company? The first thing that I would do if I was looking at a company, the first thing I'd do is look at the website. I would go on my mobile, I'd search the website. I would also go into the Glassdoor as well.

Terry: And if anyone doesn't know what Glassdoor is as well, you can search any company and it'll give you a review of the workplace. If you haven't done it already, go search your company on there it's quite interesting. Luckily I've only got Scott so if Scott put up a review, I think I'd know who it is. [crosstalk 00:21:39]

Terry: So yeah, it's important that you bring your website into 2018. It's no good just throwing stuff out there. It's actually having something people can see about working in the factory. So get testimonials, get a video of your ops manager or your MD actually promoting the business. Oh these things, says to me that it's a form of thanking and ambitions dynamic type environment. What I don't want to see is something that's actually been done on word press that looks as if it was built in 1980s, when I was born and you find [inaudible 00:22:13] really good career opportunities for me it's an investment. If you can't even invest in a website what chance have you got in investing in the top machinery and the top process[crosstalk 00:22:22].


Scott: It's about virtual perception eh? [crosstalk 00:22:28]

Scott: Virtual or online perception making sure [crosstalk 00:22:30].


Terry: Exactly and I find that does help in building up your brand image because everybody wants to work with companies that they've grew up with. Some Coca-Cola, every commercial you've seen adverts. Kelloggs, you've always ate Kelloggs as your cereal. These are brands that people have been brought up with. As a millennial you want to work with those type of companies because you see them as the forward thinking. The reality is, if you're in a small dynamic nimble business. Bringing out new products and putting all that investments, you've got far more that you can potentially offer someone from a career experience and development opportunity. Therefore, get that and shout it out. Get that brand out there and make it positive. And what you'll do is you'll attract the best people because people see an opportunity quickly develop careers, get new experience and work with a growing business. Which would be far more attractive for me that would it be working with big boy Chuck.

Terry: That's not to say big boy Chuck, nothing against that. It's not that at all. But it's actually how does a smaller business attract the best talent because the blue chips are already doing it cause they've already got the brand.


Scott: And the structure and the financial backing to allow them to do that. Cause they know that by having a graduate scheme or having more apprentices come through the next end. Based on the attrition the should be able to keep them in development throughout the ranks.


Terry: Yep and then offering good training and support as well. If you're taking on someone from the university and they want to complete their Masters' or they want to do an MBA and it's actually someone that could be a future leader within your business. Make sure that's made out pretty clear. And you can protect yourself as a business by putting in a clause of, if you leave within a certain period of time, you have to pay back your training course. And that's fair enough, you know that.

Terry: There's protection there as well. And you do is get a buy in, cause you're investing in their future, you're investing in their education which has clearly been important if they've went to university and done good.


Scott: Sorry Terry, this is real from a reputational perspective. Just you talking about education there. We have an example last week whereby there's a gent that said he's studying at the moment to do one of his exams and he turned in his notice just before Christmas. And I recognize this, it's a respectable good company. And what's actually happened is, the company, because he's handed his notice in, is refusing to give him the time off for sitting his exam.

Scott: So actually when that chap leaves, actually he's now leaving with whatever perception that is. So think companies also need to remember, what people that are leaving the company, for whatever reason. What perception are they leaving that organization with. Because when there's a skills shortage and everyone's fighting for the same level of talent. What perception is getting left out there? And that chap was really grateful for allowing to do his studies whilst working and he worked his hours accordingly. But now he's leaving feeling, for crying out loud, he's actually having to do a re-sit and he hasn't even sat the first one.

Scott: But it ties in with what you're saying in terms of reputation of the company, good or bad is actually totally rel vent for what they're trying to attract. And it's about the development thereof isn't it?


Terry: I think that's a key thing, just to kinda wrap that up Scott, we went for some good information there. We've rambled on a little but I think it's very, very worthwhile and hopefully brought home a few points and actually gave you a good prospective from ourselves on how you attract people in manufacturing.


Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the Manufacturing Ignition podcast. If you've made it this far, we take it that you enjoyed the show. In return, we'd love it if you'd leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Subscribe while you're there and we'll catch you for the next episode.


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