Despite uncertainty over Brexit, small and medium sized manufacturers are on a recruitment drive to boost productivity and sales, report claims.
The latest National Manufacturing Barometer, conducted by SWMAS (part of Exelin Group) in partnership with Economic Growth Solutions, questioned nearly 300 manufacturing SMEs on the current economic picture, with over half (53 per cent) expressing intentions to hire more staff over the next six months.
The quarterly survey reported also that 60 per cent of manufacturers saw an increase in sales, with 68 per cent expecting orders to rise between now and the end of the year. Although slightly down on the last report, 48 per cent of respondents said they plan to spend on new machinery and premises.
Simon Howes, CEO of Exelin Group, said: “The need to focus on recruitment comes as no surprise and reflects what manufacturers are telling us about their concerns around productivity and the availability of people.
“As we approach Brexit, it’s important to recognise that UK SME manufacturing is proving resilient. The analysis of the key trends and comments in this quarter’s Barometer points to firm intentions of growth, improved productivity and increasing profitability.”
Dean Barnes, regional director of economic growth solutions, said: “It’s perhaps a symptom of the current political and uncertain economic climate that this latest survey highlights clear messages around the need for stability, diversification and exploring new ways of achieving goals.
“New markets, premises, products, service development, better machinery, increasing brand awareness and, most importantly, the recruitment of apprentices and skilled staff were all heavily referenced as part of the feedback we received from respondents.”
The National Barometer’s special focus found many SMEs lacked skilled staff within their manufacturing teams, particularly with technical levels in design, general management and operational levels in sales and marketing.
Bosses also had concerns about the quality of staff training, the attitude of some new recruits, salary expectations and the cost and quality of recruitment.
“Small to medium sized manufacturers have retained a strong sense of pragmatic optimism and are clearly thinking of their pipeline of skilled and motivated employees when it comes to the stability and growth of their businesses,” said Howes. “Moving closer to the new industrial and post-Brexit landscape, the need for a wide strategic view of productivity has never been so important.”