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3 minute read

Make UK Conference: Tackling the talent pipeline

Skills or the lack of them remain a key concern for UK manufacturers, with Brexit threatening to shrink the talent pool of qualified technicians even further. So just how do we create the workforce of the future to drive the sector forward? Ahead of the National Manufacturing Conference, Andrea Rodney, Director of Hone-All Precision, one of the country’s leading deep hole boring and honing sub-contract engineering companies, lays out her unique approach to making sure she secures the talent of tomorrow.

Deep hole drilling, honing and boring is not taught as an apprenticeship so we have always had to train most of our own people. But up until five years ago when we looked to top up the numbers from external providers, we were being sent people through the normal HR routes, and they didn’t really have what we needed. Going down the traditional HR route means you end up getting someone who may tick all the boxes in terms of qualifications, but it’s much more important to choose someone with the passion for the industry who wants to learn and who have a real drive to succeed.

Andrea will be speaking at the Make UK National Manufacturing Conference, taking place in London on 25th February 2020 / Picture: Make UK


About five years ago we decided to take a different approach and launched a little Facebook page targeting our local areas. We didn’t ask for specific qualifications, our only criteria was asking if they had a passion for engineering and were looking for a change in career. Attitude and aptitude were all potential employees really needed – we could, and would, sort out the rest.

From this, we got seven really good people who are ultra-reliable. Four of them are all trained up and the other three are pretty much on the way. Recruiting this way means that new employees have bespoke training which is totally relevant to your individual company and they really hit the ground running once they are ready to start.

One of our successful recruits had been to college to study engineering for a year but had pretty much given up having unsuccessfully applied for 50 jobs. He ended up working in the retail sector which was such a waste as it was clear from talking to him that he had a real passion for engineering and it was what he really wanted to do. That passion and desire to learn was enough to convince me – I was sure he had what it took and he is now an excellent CNC turner.

The quality of some providers is a major block to industry and manufacturing and engineering in particular. They tend not to have the up-to-date equipment to be able to teach apprentices the latest techniques that they are expected to know in a real-life situation of a job in industry. Government needs to give specialist engineering providers the funding that they need to they can equip themselves to train people in the relevant skills of today.

Government should also consider channelling funding directly to businesses – giving employers control, and accountability – as we are the ones who really know what we need someone to be able to do. If they can’t do this directly, maybe it could come in the form of tax benefits which would enable employers to invest in accredited training for the next generation of engineers more widely.

Our success in getting the right people to fill the gaps in our business comes from looking for people who are able to think outside the box a little. Training from scratch in the first few months reaps rewards ten-fold very quickly indeed.

Make UK will be hosting a Tackling the Talent Pipeline workshop at the National Manufacturing Conference on 25 February 2020, London where you can hear from Andrea alongside Fiona McGarry, Apprentices and Skills Engagement Manager at Make UK and Christopher Nieper, Managing Director at David Nieper Ltd, on new and innovative ways at solving the skills challenge and doing more with less.

Find out more on the National Manufacturing Conference below