West Midlands a manufacturing economy

West Midlands a manufacturing economy

Challenges persist for companies in attracting, retaining and supporting the right staff, says Sue Parr, Business Development Director at WMG, University of Warwick.

Attracting the right staff is vital from the outset, yet employers are reporting recruitment difficulties, with hard-to fill vanancies in manufacturing, production, construction, utilities, as well as finance and retail. These industries face the challenge of attracting the right people, with the right skills, at the rate which they and the economy need in order
to grow. But it’s not just about recruitment; an organisation needs to make sure that they can retain that person.

Individuals tend to favour and remain loyal to those organisations that show a commitment to their ongoing development. Although an ever-increasing tendency to consider moving jobs after their first three to five years has been noted among younger employees, providing ongoing learning and development can help retain them and develop future senior leaders. It can even mean that if employees do leave they may return later at a more senior level.

Individuals and their employers need to be sure that, throughout their time at the company, they will have the necessary skills to support the business however that may change as the market and the company develops. Two-thirds of the 520 organisations surveyed by CIPD last year for their Planning and Resourcing report stated that the skills needed for jobs in their organisation were changing. In another recent CIPD report (HR Outlook), talent management, innovation, and increased agility flexibility were seen to be in the top five of the key priorities for HR and staff development.

Organisations can address this in different ways. For example, in this age of university tuition fees and student loans, high calibre school leavers may be attracted instead to a company that offers them not only a job, but the potential to gain training and possibly a degree via an apprenticeship. Not only will the company get first pick of the new generation at this earlier stage, they will be able to train them with exactly the skills they need in their business, and encourage their loyalty to the company.

Graduates have always tended to favour organisations that offer them career development support via well-structured graduate programmes, but increasingly they also want there to be clearly defined ongoing development opportunities after that initial induction period.

Many companies are now developing their own internal academies to address the question of developing people across the organisation throughout their careers. The launch of the Jaguar Land Rover Academy is a great example of how this can work well for the employee as well as the company.

In this changing landscape of learning and skills, Higher Education providers are well placed to support these initiatives. They are also increasingly able to offer customised programmes for employees throughout their careers.

Sue Parr is Business Development Director at WMG, University of Warwick. For more information on WMG and how it is working to support skills in industry, see www.warwick.ac.ukwmgptmasters