Is social media the answer to the ageing workforce crisis?

Is social media the answer to the ageing workforce crisis?

Manufacturing is booming in the UK, but who really knows about it outside of the manufacturing sector?!

Without sounding like a broken record, the metal processing and engineering sectors in the UK are still struggling to attract the next generation of employees into the industry. It’s not a new news story, but it’s one that Midlands based slitting company Independent Slitters are trying to address by getting on camera to talk about it.

The Metal Magazine were invited to site to create a video about the opportunities that are available at Independent Slitters, and to discuss the opportunities more widely within the UK manufacturing and processing sectors.

Managing Director Dan Wharrad told me that “the opportunities to work for companies like Rolls Royce and Jaguar Land Rover are often well-publicised, but there is a huge industry sector that supports these types of businesses, which is often overlooked.”

In Dan’s opinion, there is an untapped young workforce, “that has no idea about the opportunities that can be had” in the metal engineering and manufacturing sectors.

Apprentice at Independent Slitters marking sheet material

The rewards, for the right people, can be great. Dan told me, “You just need a willingness to learn, the right attitude, and to be reliable.” And for this, “you can pick up good wages and have long term job security as there’s always going to be steel slitting and other process work to be undertaken in the UK.”

Works Manager Mark was very open about some of the problems that face the business, saying that “most of the potential employees that have experience are a lot older. Although, in fairness, they work hard, and often have good skills.”

With regard to the younger generation coming through, he is changing the working environment and building a team mentality, where everyone relies on each other to get the work done. Ultimately, this has resulted in retaining more staff and providing a better service for the customers, as lead times are more predictable and consistent within the business.

Apprentice at Independent Slitters with rolls of sheet material

We also spoke with apprentice Joe, who spent a month with Independent Slitters before joining Enterprise Rent-a-Car as a graduate trainee manager. He reiterated the problems that are facing the industry, saying: “Even in college, you have your plumbing, electricians, bricklayers, but no one talks about manufacturing.”

The trade associations back these figures up, with average ages in operational roles pushing almost 50 years old.

So, the question is the same as it’s been for a while: 

What do we do about getting more people into the industry?

Well, I think the answer is pretty clear. The government is pushing UK Manufacturing. There is funding available for the sector, and with Brexit there is even more opportunity to produce UK manufactured products. The global perception of UK manufactured products is still high, so the strong growth we have seen in the sector should continue.

But ultimately it’s down to the businesses that make up this industry sector to do more to network with schools and colleges, as well as showing the new young workforce of today and tomorrow what the Metal Manufacturing, Distribution, Fabrication and Processing industries are all about. The industry isn’t currently sexy, but it could be! When you check out social media, there are huge followings for engineering and machining channels, so the interest is clearly there in the younger generation. It’s just a case of harnessing that interest to present your business as a legitimate employment opportunity.

The goal of marketing is to put your business in front of your desired market. In the context of recruitment, businesses need to market themselves to the potential employees that they’d like to reach. So, they need to present themselves in the same places that their desired ideal candidates would be found and do more to make their workplace an attractive prospect.

At Independent Slitters, apprentice Joe was looking for work in his local area and found the company on social media. He sent a speculative message to the managing director, Dan, which resulted in him being given a job. This wouldn’t have happened if Independent Slitters weren’t already on social media, and not all jobseekers will be as forward-thinking or bold as young Joe.

As we found out when filming at Independent Slitters, there is plenty of opportunity in UK manufacturing. We just need to spread the word and get the next generation of employees into these exciting businesses.

Find out more about Independent Slitters and their metal slitting services by visiting their website: www.independentslitters.co.uk

About the author

Latest articles

Featured article
  • Women with Metal

    Women with Metal

    It’s been 7 weeks since the first Women with Metal event and the 2nd edition of this sell out conference has already been booked top take place on 29 October 2024. Kirsty is increasing the size and scale of the event and has booked a hall at the ICC Birmingham for year 2 with the…

    Read article →

  • Organized Crime Drives Metal Theft Epidemic: UK Economy Loses Half a Billion Annually.

    Organized Crime Drives Metal Theft Epidemic: UK Economy Loses Half a Billion Annually.

    A newly released report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Metal, Stone, and Heritage reveals that metal theft orchestrated by organized crime groups is costing the UK economy a staggering half a billion pounds each year. The comprehensive study, titled “Tackling Metal Theft,” exposes a rising trend in metal-related crimes since 2019, amounting to a…

    Read article →

  • Van Leeuwen: The Energy Project

    Van Leeuwen: The Energy Project

    In December 2021 Jill Clements told me about the Energy Project that had been signed off by Van Leeuwen UK. Jill was animated when talking about the news, and excitedly explained the potential that this opened up to her and the team. “I am very excited about it. I am really happy that finally we…

    Read article →

  • Drywall Steel Sections Secures £9.5 Million WMCA Investment

    Drywall Steel Sections Secures £9.5 Million WMCA Investment

    £13 million was all it took for a family run manufacturing business to make a monumental transformation in the historic heart of the steel industry! Drywall Steel Sections Ltd are on the move after securing loan funding of £9.5 million from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). Their Cradley Heath site was no longer fit…

    Read article →

  • The NASS Golf day & Summer Gathering 2023

    The NASS Golf day & Summer Gathering 2023

    On the 29th of June, Matt Tipper, Stewart Andrews and I had a swing of the clubs at Priory Breadsall in Derby. A week later, on the 6th of July, I attended the Summer Gathering in central Birmingham. Two entirely different events, seven days apart, both hosted by The National Association of Steel Service Centres…

    Read article →

  • The Stainless Steel Industry Meets at the BSSA Annual Conference & Dinner

    The Stainless Steel Industry Meets at the BSSA Annual Conference & Dinner

    The British Stainless Steel Association (BSSA) met at The Grand Hotel in Birmingham in May 2023 for their annual conference and dinner. Having attended the last four BSSA annual conferences and this year’s Food and Beverage Industry event (link to article), it was great to catch up with familiar faces from the industry and new…

    Read article →

  • Q2 Review: Analysing The Recruitment Landscape

    Q2 Review: Analysing The Recruitment Landscape

    Large corporate companies are facing challenges attracting new talent and retaining skilled staff especially when their salary structures, work flexibility and staff benefits are outdated compared to smaller, more agile SMEs. Smaller companies can have the advantage of being able to offer more flexibility and quicker decision-making, meaning they’re a more appealing option for certain…

    Read article →

  • How to use LinkedIn for YOUR Metal Business.

    How to use LinkedIn for YOUR Metal Business.

    The below presentation was given at the National Association of Steel Service Centres (NASS) 2023 Summer Gathering. In 12 days I’ll have been using LinkedIn for 12 years! On the day I joined I thought: “Wow! This business Facebook thingy is incredible! Everyone I want to do business with is right here, this will be…

    Read article →

  • Leading the Charge: Steel Dynamics in the Nuclear Industry

    Leading the Charge: Steel Dynamics in the Nuclear Industry

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently unveiled the Great British Nuclear initiative, marking a significant milestone in the UK’s pursuit of a sustainable energy future. With nuclear power playing a crucialrole in achieving net-zero emissions and reducing greenhouse gases, this announcement signals a remarkable leap forward in the nation’s commitment to clean and reliable energy sources.…

    Read article →

  • Steel Dynamics Group Ltd. Acquires Ferrari Stainless & Alloys.

    Steel Dynamics Group Ltd. Acquires Ferrari Stainless & Alloys.

    Steel Dynamics Group Ltd. Acquires Ferrari Stainless & Alloys Ltd. Launching P&P Non Ferrous: A Gateway to Enhanced Customer Services and Expansion Down South In a strategic move to bolster its position in the industry, Steel Dynamics Group Ltd. proudly announces the successful acquisition of Ferrari Stainless & Alloys Ltd. in Wimborne. This transformative development…

    Read article →

  • Sustainability is key to modern manufacturing

    Sustainability is key to modern manufacturing

    During my time supplying specialist metals into the manufacturing sector, I have noticed several things regarding the supply chain local to me in South Yorkshire. 1 Large Manufacturing companies often have difficult onboarding processes.  This makes it difficult for smaller SMES or new market entrants to be able to supply them. 2 Manufacturing companies are…

    Read article →

  • Lasers: The Tesla of Tooling

    Lasers: The Tesla of Tooling

    Welcome back, I’m LaserEd, and I work with lasers. I’ll be laser-educating for The Metal Magazine and I hope it results in more metal parts being lasered! First of all, I haven’t had an accident after writing my last article about Laser Safety. I have been busy researching. Although it is time consuming, I love…

    Read article →

  • Implementing QMS Certifications for Small Businesses and Start-Up Companies

    Implementing QMS Certifications for Small Businesses and Start-Up Companies

    Welcome to the fourth and final instalment of this short series on Quality Management System certification for small businesses and start-up companies. In this 4 part series I have been explaining exactly what third-party certification involves, and how you can level up your business through this process. The standard we are focussing on is ISO9001:2015, as…

    Read article →

Get notified when we publish new articles!

Want to feature in the next edition?