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Is Manufacturing Losing the War for Talent?

Is manufacturing still an attractive industry for accountants?
June 22, 2022

Manufacturing in the Midlands is facing headwinds and in this short article, we look at how that's affecting their ability to secure Accounting talent.

A disclaimer first...

I love Manufacturing, it is a crucial industry that provides everything from high class jobs to national security and independence.

Is Manufacturing as desirable as it once was?

Now, I can only speak for Accountants whom I deal with, but it does seem the winds of change are blowing particularly hard against Manufacturing.

Whilst sector experience is certainly valued, Accountants have very broad skillsets and it's much easier for them to switch sectors than say, an engineer. With this in mind, Manufacturing Accountants are often offered the opportunity to switch out of the industry and it's often tough to replace them, why is this?

The Economic Background

Many employees want to join a stable, profitable company. It gives them the reassurance they can pay their mortgage and look after their family.

With this in mind, companies who are struggling can be tough to recruit for.

Manufacturing has historically done very well, but some sectors, steel, aerospace and automotive in particular are struggling and will continue to struggle for months to come. Why? Take your Pick

  • Chip shortages leading to OEM volumes coming down
  • Dieselgate / Brexit
  • Out of control energy costs in an energy intensive industry
  • Labour shortages and cost rises
  • A very high overheads base
  • Large investment requirements
  • Cheaper overseas competition
  • Global owners moving UK production abroad

Manufacturing is Tough! And if a company is struggling cashwise, it can be tough to recruit for. It's not as fun being an Accountant in the midst of years of cost-cutting.

Talent issues

Whilst costs are rising for companies, Inflation is also ravaging personal budgets, forcing happy Accountants to demand more money. With their diverse skillsets, nothing is stopping Accountants moving industry and joining that high growth, well funded tech business.

In addition, Manufacturing candidates are very highly regarded, with their skillset well respected in a number of other industries.

Inflexibility

And now the big one.

Manufacturing as a whole, is much more likely to want you in the office, 5 days a week.

I understand the reasoning why, with their engineers/shop floor staff being unable to work from home at all. Sadly, this is not an issue for Accountants or other head office staff to deal with.

In our numerous studies, each and every time, Manufacturing (and to a lesser degree logistics) topped our study for wanting people to be in the office 5 days a week, especially SME manufacturers. I cannot stress how difficult this makes the role to fill. Accountants can just switch jobs to a more flexible employer in a different industry.

So what are the upsides?

Manufacturing still has a ton going for it. For a start, people love working for interesting companies, with rich histories that make Tangible products.

In the Midlands, we have companies that export high-class products all across the globe. Those companies will always be attractive employers.

The flexibility element is also easily fixed, with a bit of planning and a move to Hybrid working, all those problems are waved away.

Manufacturing is critical to the Midlands, Automotive especially.

Where the real problems seem to lie, is the army of Small to Medium Manufacturing firms that are struggling to stay profitable amid rising costs. These firms are compounding their problems with a rigid approach to staff attendance, making accessing top talent all that much harder.

The forward-thinking, world-leading Manufacturers are here to stay and will continue to spread the reputation of the Midlands right across the world stage!

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