Solving the War for Talent in the Wake of Brexit and the Pandemic for Light and Heavy Industry

Leverage technology to streamline recruitment efforts during talent shortage.

It’s been a year of disruption for the UK economy, with both the pandemic and Brexit underscoring the role of light and heavy industries’ in providing critical health, safety, and national-security products. Dealing with either of these shocks in isolation would be difficult for the sector; dealing with both will be even harder as leaders consider new complex challenges and opportunities. 

Talent management concerns are also on the rise as the pre-existing war for talent intensifies over potential future skills requirements, and businesses must remain vigilant when it comes to any technical skills gaps in their workforce. The pandemic was disruptive for light and heavy industry with plant closures and re-openings, ambiguity over what classified as essential services and challenges for leaders who needed to balance production with ensuring the safety of their workforce. On top of this, the fourth industrial revolution has not gone away, and if anything, the pandemic signaled an opportunity to improve efficiencies, leverage technology and embrace its full potential. It is important for business leaders in light and heavy industries to reevaluate their hiring efforts to attract and retain workers with relevant skills. Currently competition is fierce and with traditional recruitment processes falling short of delivering necessary supply, there exists rising demands for digital technological solutions to satisfy talent requirements. 

What’s Causing the Talent Shortage in the Light and Heavy Industry? 

The talent shortage in the light and heavy industry is nothing new, though qualified candidates are becoming harder and harder to find for several reasons that have been exacerbated by:

  • Brexit 

New immigration rules make it challenging to recruit European employees (23.6% fewer EU workers were employed in 2020). Many EU workers are choosing to leave the UK and return to their home countries or other EU countries to work, due to the uncertainty of post-Brexit employee rights. 

  • The pandemic 

The pandemic had a massive impact on all areas of the light and heavy industry and has affected the efficiency of the global supply chain. Huge delays in the transportation of goods had a negative impact on schedules, with some projects being cancelled or postponed indefinitely, leading to workers looking for new opportunities elsewhere. 

On the other hand, increased demand for items like PPE and other essential goods and services gave skilled workers more opportunity to work. Though many were hesitant to expose themselves to the virus, others needed to stay home to care for dependents, and some had to take time off work to manage their children while schools closed. 

  • Growing skills gap

For many years, the light and heavy industry has struggled to introduce and entice new workers, as misconceptions of career prospects still prevail in young people. This simply stems from a lack of education and awareness, as educational institutions need to collaborate to ensure young workers are aware of the benefits of a career in the sector. 

According to Industry Week, only one-third (32%) of Gen Z has had manufacturing suggested to them as a career option, compared to only 18% of Millennials and 13% of the general population. 

  • Ageing population

The UK has an aging workforce and the sector desperately needs skilled, younger workers. According to The Manufacturing Institute

  • Approximately 22% of existing skilled manufacturing workers will be retiring by the end of 2025
  • 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled by 2030

What Can be Done About the War for Talent? 

In the wake of Brexit and the global pandemic, business leaders in the light and heavy industries have been forced to reevaluate their resourcing models. As the economy begins to recover, the situation is stabilising as the rate of redundancies falls, and recruitment shows signs of growth. 

Many of the sectors within the light and heavy industries are classified as ‘essential services’ meaning that the war for talent is as rife as ever, as they face competition from direct competitors and other industries believed to offer more attractive career prospects. 

Businesses need to innovate and leverage technology to be responsive and competitive in the market as they consider external pressures such as: 

  • Government regulations 
  • Rising costs or fixed costs (price of goods, petrol, electricity, etc.)
  • Challenges to reduce emissions and improve sustainability 
  • Growth of e-Commerce resulting in greater demand for logistics/manufacturing/delivery services 
  • Rise of industry 4.0 – automation and digitalisation of the wider industry approach and processes and the resulting impact on the workforce 

How Can the Light and Heavy Industries Leverage Technology to Support its Recruitment Efforts? 

As the industry focuses on how technology can improve the efficiency of existing processes and procedures to close the productivity gap, it should also consider how digital transformation can support the recruitment process. Modernising parts of the talent acquisition strategy will help high-volume and shift-based work become more streamlined, empowering organisations to attract more talent resources, fulfil more mandates, and increase operational efficiency on time and on budget. This can be achieved by implementing processes such as: 

  • Referral schemes 

Referrals are an effective talent sourcing method, particularly in the light and heavy industry sectors such as logistics, manufacturing, transport etc. Not only are they a means to find like-minded talent, they reduce cost-to-hire and help to improve staff retention by building a positive work culture. 

  • AI and technology recruiting solutions 

Automation systems are rising up the agenda and it’s not difficult to see why, as it increases productivity by minimising time investment, cost and errors. 

  • Mobile apps

As many of the workforce in this sector are not computer bound or in the office, mobile recruiting and communications are key to attracting and retaining talent. Mobile apps will make it faster and easier for skilled candidates to apply for jobs and schedule interviews. Features such as conversational chatbots will help to increase recruiting capabilities without adding more consultants. 

How Can WorkLLama Help?

Helping you ensure your business or opportunities stand out in a crowded market, WorkLLama is a more cost-effective candidate acquisition tool that allows you to engage candidates in your existing database, garner high-value candidate referrals, reduce reliance on job boards and improve the end-client employer brand. 

Through AI and automation, WorkLLama enhances the human touch by delivering on-brand communications across each stage of the hiring process, ensuring high volume and shift-based work is streamlined, with compliance and reference checks handled with ease. When dealing with high-volume applications, WorkLLama’s ability to automate tasks such as candidate screening, candidate engagement and scheduling interviews increases productivity and reduces headcount costs in your organisation, while enhancing your value proposition and delivery to your end-client.

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