Jobless recovery, grim future

Posted on 3 Feb 2011 by The Manufacturer

Manufacturers need to start recruiting if they are thinking about the long term, says Jonathan Lee, of Jonathan Lee Recruitment.

Unfortunately the improved manufacturing PMI figures have not translated into a large upswing in recruitment in the manufacturing sector. In short, it is largely a jobless recovery.

Currently, most manufacturers are able to respond to increased demand without recruiting, in large part due to spare capacity built up during the recession.

As margins have been squeezed, many manufacturers have looked to recruit specialist operations managers who are tasked solely with reducing costs and lead times. The focus is on recruiting people who allow manufacturers to improve their service, as in the short-term, this is the only way they can increase the price they charge.

Another promising trend is that manufacturers are looking to recruit people in ‘advanced manufacturing engineering roles’: for example, pre-production design and new product development roles. We’re hopeful that once these new programmes and products reach the manufacturing stage, firms will then look to recruit more widely.

When manufacturers start to recruit in earnest they will almost certainly face competition for the best candidates, especially among the younger workforce, where a skills shortage exists. Until apprentice schemes return to the levels of the past there will still be a skills shortage in manufacturing and engineering in this country.