Senior decision makers within small and medium sized manufacturers have shared their views on maximising workforce efficiency to support productivity and growth.
The Core Trends
SME manufacturers across the South West have witnessed a boost in their sales turnover in the past six months increasing from 57% to 66% and up an astounding 17% from the same period last year. Respondents remained optimistic for the next six months too, with 71% expecting their sales turnover to increase.
Investment over the past six months in new machinery has also taken a steady rise with a 5% increase and 57% of business estimating a further increase over the next six months. New technology however, took a 3% dip from 36% to 33% of businesses investing in the last six months, but when asked how they expect the next six months to map out for new technology investment, 57% of business are expecting an bigger spend.
Finally, there has been an 8% increase in staff numbers for businesses over the past six months, perhaps reflective of the spike in sales turnover for 66% of businesses. When asked how they expect staff numbers to change over the next six months, 50% of businesses said they expected an increase, up from 4% last quarter.
The Special Focus
In this quarter’s survey we sought to understand SME manufacturers thoughts on maximising their workforce efficiency to support productivity and growth.
The findings highlighted that the main barrier to productivity and growth for manufacturers seems to be skills and expertise within the business, closely followed by their workforce efficiency. Other barriers included cost increases from supply chains, the lack of availability in suitable industrial property and Government spend on infrastructure such as highways, rails and nuclear.
Senior decision makers have revealed they believe strong leadership on the shop floor and the skills of the management team are the most important elements when it comes to improving the productivity and growth of the business.
With a strong and efficient workforce clearly vital to a growing business, we asked respondents what their main challenges were when looking to attract new talent. Lack of industry specific skills was the evident frontrunner, closely followed by geographical shortfalls and pressure to pay higher salaries.
The overall picture is positive, with sales turnover increasing for many businesses within the sector. However, with increases in sales, the need for an efficient and productive workforce is amplified. Whether improvements are made through enhancing skills of the current workforce, or adding to the existing team by attracting new talent into the business, it is key that businesses get it right if they want to prosper, but with lack of industry specific skills and good quality graduates and apprentices coming into the industry, coupled with increasing concerns over free movement of labour, is enough being done to support SMEs in overcoming these obstacles?
You can download your copy of the South West Q4 2016-2017 Barometer report below: