Manufacturers turn to outsourcing to plug the skills gap

20th June 2018
Joe Bush

UK manufacturers are increasingly outsourcing critical areas of plant management in an attempt to plug a growing skills gap within engineering. That’s the experience of Warwick-based manufacturing firm Leadec, at a time when the automotive sector alone is advertising up to 5,000 vacancies.

According to the Automotive Council, a lack of skilled workers is causing significant impact on business operations, with thousands of vacancies remaining unfilled. The news follows a recent report from trade union GMB stating the manufacturing sector has suffered a decline in employment over the past ten years, with major OEMs fighting to cannibalise talent.

The solution for many has been to outsource specialist services, with Leadec experiencing significant demand for external skills support from OEMs across the UK in recent months. According to the company’s CEO, Phil McClennon, what was once seen as a quick fix is fast becoming a critical part of a sustainable business model for manufacturing organisations.

“We’re noticing a growing pool of what we call revivalist manufacturers, who are increasingly looking for new solutions to age-old problems they can’t solve through traditional recruitment processes. With few available skills to source, these revivalists are investing in other ways to plug the gap and seek out manufacturing specialist outsourcing businesses to not only respond to an immediate need, but to drive value in other areas of the business too.

“We’re taking on more work for plant maintenance and production efficiency and because of our proven track record in manufacturing, we’re also able to add value to customers by advising on effective waste management techniques, facilities upgrades and production equipment installation.

We’re effectively helping to fill the role of not one, but several people, adding value across the plant ecosystem.”

According to McClennon, manufacturers no longer view outsourcing as an immediate cost saving, but as a strategic tool that is helping them unlock higher levels of performance across the business - something that often cannot be accessed through more generic outsourcing provision.

McClennon added: “Manufacturers want to work with businesses that understand their processes and which can work in partnership to boost operational performance. As a specialist in this sector, Leadec is experiencing growing demand from businesses that are struggling to recruit the right people in the right places and working with manufacturers to make them more efficient on a longer-term basis. While the skills gap shows no sign of shrinking, specialist outsourcing is providing a sustainable solution to manufacturing.”

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