Mend the skills gap

Manufacturers need to become destination employers to appeal to younger workers says James Herbert

Manufacturers need to become destination employers to appeal to younger workers says James Herbert

A wise man once said that ageing is a privilege, not a predicament. That’s all well and good, but what if you’re an employer with an ageing workforce and you can’t seem to attract younger workers to fill their shoes? That’s the position UK manufacturers are facing. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) reports that more than four-fifths of manufacturers struggled to hire the right staff in the final months of 2018.

The average age of the manufacturing workforce has climbed and it’s quite typical for over-40s to make up the majority of the labour pool. A recent YouGov survey revealed this is one of the highest concerns among 75 per cent of manufacturers.

The manufacturing industry has been dealt a raw deal by being missed from the national curriculum. School and college students simply aren’t given any visibility of the industry and the opportunities it has to offer. As such, roles such as fashion designer, graphic designer and game developer topped the list of careers desired by school leavers in 2017 according to Nominet research.

The army of aspiring fashion designers and game developers want to work in vibrant environments where creativity, expression and individuality are encouraged. They want to work in spaces that look great on their Instagram feeds and they want to impress their friends with inspiring stories of their exciting and enviable working lives.

Looking to the tech industry
The fact is, young people see manufacturing as rather dull and uninspiring despite the fact that, unbeknown to them, they could be doing incredibly exciting things with some of the world’s most advanced technologies.

Manufacturers are doing their best with initiatives to attract more female workers and give greater priority to apprentices. While it’s refreshing to see such initiatives being launched, HR leaders need to adopt the mind-sets of destination employers like Google and Apple who extend their responsibilities to ensure workers are given benefits that enhance their lives outside of working hours, not just while they’re at work.

While it’s hard for the majority of businesses to adopt the same recruitment and retention strategies as multi-billion companies like Google and Apple, there are realistically affordable – and sometimes free – solutions that can help make a difference.

Younger generations strive to work for destination employers like Google and Apple because these companies have spent a lot on extending the duty of care they have over their workers. Manufacturing organisations can break through to younger jobseekers by affordably addressing a wellbeing issue that is often unrecognised by employers and that is financial stress.

A workplace benefit to enhance your recruitment strategy
Employers are generally unaware of the impact of financial stress in the workforce because people are reluctant to talk about their personal finance woes. It simply isn’t terribly British. Yet research highlights how significant this unspoken burden has become in workers’ lives. More than 20 per cent of UK employers have experienced what it calls ‘in-work poverty’ according to the FCA. It also found the number of employees struggling financially rose by 50 per cent over a ten-year period.

Young people beginning their working lives will undoubtedly take into account the benefits of working in the industries they are considering, and if manufacturing companies can extend their duty of care in the way that leading tech companies have – more affordably or for free – they can increase their appeal.

Manufacturing businesses can support workers with a smart, ethical and efficient way to help employees manage their finances, month by month using money they’ve already earned, not borrowed, the crucial difference. Traditional weekly and monthly pay cycles are too rigid for today’s workers. Allowing workers to access a portion of the money they’ve earned without waiting for pay day gives them the control they need over their finances without resorting to borrowing.

Empowering workers with earnings on demand
Enabling workers to access their earnings on demand gives employees flexible budgeting options that allow them to keep up with modern financial demands. Capping the withdrawal limit at 50 per cent of a month’s salary provides a safety buffer for the end of the month meaning both employers and workers are protected and are both doing their bit to promote healthy, helpful budgeting.

When it comes to implementing new wellbeing solutions, employers are usually working with tight budgets but seeking distinctive new benefits that will attract talent that could otherwise find employment elsewhere. Employers can implement solutions that enable access to earnings on demand that operate at zero cost to the business, with pain-free implantation and no impact on cash flow.

In a sector that contributes £131 billion to the UK economy, ensuring skilled workers are given the support they need to do their jobs well, and remain in those jobs, is essential. Manufacturing organisations are all too aware of the growing skills gap. Cost-free initiatives such as access to earnings on demand will go beyond making manufacturing organisations destination employers. Alongside other current initiatives, this can make manufacturing a destination sector for the young, growing workforce

James Herbert
James Herbert is CEO Hastee Pay. Hastee Pay is an employee benefit that allows workers to receive their pay immediately – whenever & wherever they want – enhancing choice and financial wellbeing. Companies benefit from the increased productivity, engagement & retention of their workers, with no cost or impact on company cash-flow.