Talent attraction and technology – how digital transformation can help manufacturing fill skills gaps 

Talent attraction is a major issue for employers in manufacturing right now. In fact, the recent Make UK/PwC Executive Survey 2022 found that it is one of the top investment priorities for the year ahead within the sector.  

The recruitment market is cut-throat at the moment, due to a shortage of skilled candidates and a war between firms to secure the best talent. Employers are tackling the issue with a number of varying approaches, from offering remote or hybrid working to retraining their current teams. 

The Make UK/PwC survey found that nearly 70% of manufacturers planning to invest upskilling their existing staff during 2022, while 44% were planning to fill the skills gap with apprentices.  

But could digital transformation be more effective for retaining and attracting talent within the industry?  

Digital tools can enhance the employee experience 

There’s enormous potential for the sector to utilise technology to transform the experience of the worker on the factory floor. These aren’t jobs that can be done remotely, and even with the introduction of AI and robotics technologies, skilled on-the-ground workers will always be needed.  

Firms can dramatically improve and streamline the day-to-day experience for these essential employees, in a number of different ways. This includes introducing digitised systems to do away with cumbersome paperwork and improve access to data, and equipping workers with skills to manage AI-led processes. These are the processes that can make their jobs easier, less dangerous and reduce the burden of repetitious, time-consuming tasks.  

A recent article in The Manufacturer offered an example of how digital transformation could improve the employee experience: 

“For many years factory floors have become increasingly paperless. Workers are far more likely now to consult a screen – whether that’s a laptop, tablet, mobile or wearable devices – each being more interactive and less cumbersome than a clipboard or dusty manual. 

“And, in these digitised environments, where the delivery of data is underpinned by Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, product lifecycle management (PLM) systems and augmented reality (AR) technologies, the flow of information is far more likely to be up to date and relevant to the specific task or challenge an employee faces. This increases their productivity and job satisfaction and has the potential to boost safety and reduce the scrap and rework that results when human error creeps in.” 

Transforming perceptions of the industry 

Manufacturing, like engineering and construction, is still hindered by misconceptions about the industry. Some still believe it to be a physically demanding, male-dominated and perhaps even dangerous sector to work in.  

Technology could be the key to changing these preconceived notions for good. As the industry embraces digital transformation and advanced technologies such as AI and robotics, this could be just the shot in the arm the sector’s image needs.  

Manufacturing can be positioned and marketed as an innovative, technology-driven sector. This could do wonders for attracting younger candidates, many of whom are digital natives who grew up with technology as an essential part of their lives.  

This extends to individual companies too. Firms that lead the way in adopting pioneering technology will be best placed to attract the industry’s best and brightest candidates, with the offer of exciting career opportunities.  

For specialist recruitment and talent sourcing to help your business grow, choose Aqumen Recruitment. Get in touch to start your search 

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