4 minute read
How one UK electronics manufacturer is averting the biggest worker shortage in thirty years
According to a survey from the British Chambers of Commerce which was released at the end of 2018, the UK is facing the biggest shortage of skilled workers in more than three decades, with more than 80% of manufacturers saying they are struggling to hire staff with the right qualifications and experience.
But while there is undoubtedly an urgent need for the government to recognise, and act on, the enormity of the recruitment crisis, there is still plenty that manufacturers can do to identify, attract and retain new talent.
For UK electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider JJS Manufacturing, the end of 2018 saw an increase in their total workforce, with the combined staff across the company’s four sites nearing the 450 mark. And in the last year alone they added forty new employees to their ranks.
So how have they managed to stay on track in such a volatile and unpredictable employment environment? As JJS’s Director of Marketing Neil Sharp explains, it’s about actively seeking out new prospects, making sure you stay engaged with your existing workforce and constantly looking for opportunities to elevate from within.
Investment in people
A significant appointment for the company in 2018 was the recruitment of Chief Operating Officer (COO) Simon Scott who has brought with him considerable expertise in global manufacturing operations, contract manufacturing and the latest cutting-edge industrial technologies.
Also joining the company in 2018 was the new Director of Purchasing, Sarah-Jayne Jones, who has continued to lead the team and evolve JJS’s supply chain strategy.
JJS also galvanised its efforts on both increasing and broadening the management structure at its two manufacturing facilities in the Czech Republic, with the appointment of a local Human Resources Manager, Quality Manager and Engineering Manager.
Elevating from within
Another undoubted key to JJS’s recruitment success story has been its commitment to elevating from within the company by capitalising on the skills, strengths and potential of its existing staff.
As Sharp explains, the company’s well-established apprenticeship scheme has produced some exceptional young engineers, several of whom have since taken on responsibility for large and complex manufacturing projects valued at millions of pounds.
A number of our apprentices have had the opportunity to travel throughout the UK and Europe, and to work alongside our customers during the crucial installation stage of a project.
“Acting as ‘the face’ of JJS, there’s clearly a huge amount of trust here on our part,” says Sharp. “And from a personal development perspective, they have the chance to travel and connect with new people which helps broaden their own network.”
An important part of JJS’s ethos has been to retain the culture and feel of a family-run business, even as the company continues to grow.
“We are mindful of the fact that the company is going through a period of ambitious and aggressive growth,” he says, “and it’s important to us to always keep sight of our mission, vision and values.”
Keeping the lines of communication open is key. The company holds monthly listening days, for example, where all staff have the opportunity to sit down with a director and air any questions, views or concerns.
It also operates a Green Card system where staff can raise any issues regarding process improvements, however big or small, and many of which have helped to reduce waste, save time and cut costs.
Providing opportunities for relaxed, social interaction outside of work is also important, says Sharp. The company organises regular sporting events, tournaments and theatre trips. And the Lutterworth site has recently revitalised its popular Curry Club, with the aim of seeking out the best Indian restaurant within a 50-mile radius!
As Sharp explains: “We’re here to help, we’re interested in our staff and we genuinely care for them. We have found that these types of regular activities, both inside and outside of work, can have a really positive effect on staff engagement.”