Heras’s Head of HR tells UK manufacturers to think outside the box to solve recruitment crisis

Leading figures from the UK’s manufacturing industry were told to think outside the box to help recruit more people and fill lots of unfilled vacancies up and down the country. That was the message from Laura Ibbotson, Head of HR UK at Heras, when she addressed delegates at this year’s Make UK – a national conference for manufacturers that was held in London.

Laura was one of a panel of experts discussing the topic of Talent: Recruiting Outside the Box, which was looking at ways to reignite the manufacturing industry’s recruitment strategies to overcome the current minute talent pool of candidates available to businesses.

The chartered fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), who has more than 20 years’ experience, shared her insights from Heras about how to attract and retain talent.

She said that forging educational partnerships was fundamental for manufacturers to help create pathways into careers for local young people.

“Building strong links with the local community has been one of the strategies that we have employed at Heras – with a focus on educational establishments because it is a great opportunity to showcase the careers available in our industry and create a future talent pipeline,” said Laura.

“We have worked extensively with one local academy in particular in Doncaster, which has been reciprocally beneficial in engaging with young people and showing them the vast array of opportunities that are open to them if they pursue a career in manufacturing.”

“We are in the process of launching our latest initiative: teacher externships, providing teachers with work experience on site so that they can take their experience and learnings back to the classroom.’’

Laura also told the assembled group about how the company uses neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) profiling to assess if a candidate is right for the role and the team and to ensure the business does not recruit mini-mes. Heras uses this profiling to manage teams to their full potential and to retain them.

She also discussed the importance of embracing and using emerging technologies such as Linktree – which allows users to share multiple links on social media. Heras is using this to clearly communicate with candidates and ensure they are fully informed and have a clear understanding of Heras before the interview process commences.

Laura rounded off the session by offering three insights. The first was for manufacturers to work more closely with their HR teams. She said: “Businesses need to change their approach to recruitment, and the best way of achieving this is working with the people experts – your HR department.”

The second is for the leaders, the ones running businesses, to drive diversity as a way to benefit from employing different people with different skills and experiences. She said: “Many businesses have aspirations on issues such as diversity, but they have to free themselves from entrenched views and ‘if you always do what you always do’ approaches in order to be more accessible and flexible.”

Finally, Laura closed by advising leaders not to pay lip service to events – such as International Women’s Day – and to ensure that the drive for diversity happens continuously throughout the year if they want to attract and retain talent. She said: “Live it, breathe it and believe in it.”