Succession planning can resolve manufacturing skills gap

Succession planning can help resolve the ongoing skills shortage in the manufacturing and engineering sector, according to an experienced industry consultant.

Caroline Suggett, from strategic business development experts ROM Consultancy, is urging business owners in the manufacturing and engineering industry to invest in succession planning processes in order to overcome the skills shortage and aid future business growth. Her advice comes at a time when the industry is seeking a further one million skilled workers by 2020 in order to replace those retiring and leaving the industry.

The staggering figure which was announced recently by EEF Manufacturers’ Organisation is further compounded by recent reports which declared, despite the recent growth felt across the industry, there is still a shortage of skilled applicants applying for advanced engineering positions.

Utilising complete succession planning processes and considering future hiring, training and development will give businesses a greater view of their existing assets and requirements following a change in personnel. Continual succession planning will allow local manufacturing firms to identify potential strengths across their workforce which can then be upskilled gradually, ahead of a more senior position becoming available.

Warwickshire based Manufacturing company, Automotive Insulations, is an example of a company which actively embraces succession planning as an integral business function to facilitate future business growth. Managing director Jim Griffin explained, “The current skills shortage has the potential to stall growth across the sector, but if businesses invest in upskilling their existing workforce some of the skills gaps can be filled. We have been growing the business for a number of years and only recently started to invest in training programmes for our management teams. We are also embarking on a recruitment drive across the business at all levels and ages to ensure we build a more sustainable skills base.”

Succession planning is crucial to identifying key areas of opportunity for existing employees and for the business as a whole. These opportunities can then be developed over time, using training and development techniques to prepare for the future needs of the company. ROM Consultancy is encouraging business owners to adopt a continuous cycle of succession planning in order to develop a resilient board able to sustain future growth.

Caroline Suggett said: “Often business leaders fail to invest the time in creating an effective succession plan for their business, thinking that the time can be used more effectively elsewhere. Taking the short time to ensure a comprehensive succession plan is in place can pay dividends in the long term. Leaders should use the plan as a tool to upskill and increase the responsibility of its current workforce; whilst recognising potential opportunities for business growth. So when one employee leaves or is promoted another is already sufficiently trained to carry out the role, with minimal disruption, or cost.” 

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