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Manufacturers face ‘millennial’ snub

Manufacturers are the least likely of any major sector to have a millennial director and also have ground to make up on female and BAME representation, leaving them behind in the race for talent.

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Just 7.6 per cent of UK manufacturers have directors born after 1980, lagging behind the UK average of 11.8 per cent, according to research from consultancy New Street Consulting Group.

In contrast, nearly 17 per cent of directors in the utilities sector are millennials, and nearly 15 per cent in the retail sector.

Without younger talent on the board, companies risk a lack of diversity in key decision-making roles, which could lead to falling behind in areas such as new technology and understanding market trends.

A failure to attract younger people into the sector will also leave manufacturers facing problems with succession planning, as well as exacerbate existing skills shortages, the consultancy said. This is because manufacturing now competes with several other sectors for engineering graduates, such as financial services and technology - which are often deemed more attractive because of a more progressive image as employers.

In response, manufacturers must overhaul how they attract young talent by better showcasing the exciting developments in the sector, said Laurence Frantzis, Director at New Street Consulting Group.

“If manufacturing companies don’t rethink their recruitment process and the way they’re perceived by millennials, they are at risk of getting left behind in the race for talent.

“Millennial candidates may view the appeal of an employer through an entirely different lens to previous generations. They often place higher value on a company’s ESG [Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance] record and their use of cutting-edge technology. With the manufacturing industry making great progress in both fields, manufacturers need to ensure their company image makes the most of these developments.” 

The value of a happy, healthy workforce

The findings mirror separate research on inclusivity published in a new report by Make UK. According to survey findings, just 2 per cent of manufacturers’ average workforce age is below 30, and there is evidence of a substantial lack of diversity in boardrooms.

BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) representation on company boards is currently just 5 per cent. Women also make up just 18 per cent of boards, despite representing 29 per cent of the manufacturing sector’s overall workforce.

Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of Make UK, said:

“Manufacturing is undergoing rapid change with the adoption of new technologies and working practices. There is no doubt that industry has, to date, not embraced the societal changes that have taken place, with a workforce that isn’t as diverse and balanced as it should be.

“This means that companies are not making use of the wider talent pool available, despite clear evidence that organisations with a greater balance are better performers.”

Why gender diversity in manufacturing is crucial

The report sets out a number of guiding principles which manufacturers should use to attract a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

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