As the engineering industry develops and grows across the globe, so too must the rate of recruits entering the sector. In fact, over 124,000 new engineers and technicians are needed every year in the UK alone to cope with rising demand.
Yet, there is a skills shortage across the entire industry, making the ability to satisfy demand a real challenge. Many companies are often too reliant on an ageing workforce, which guarantees knowledge and experience in the present but not the future.
This is a challenge that is all too familiar to Cleveland Bridge Group, with a highly experienced but ageing workforce like most manufacturers. Thankfully, we have already taken steps to fill that experience gap with initiatives to both attract new talent whilst also engaging and retaining existing personnel with more flexible working arrangements at the point of retirement. This promotes staff retention and allows those highly experienced members of staff to act as mentors part time, providing a smooth transition to those coming through our development schemes.
As Michael Shevlin, Training Manager at Cleveland Bridge, acknowledges, “People are the heart of our company and our greatest asset. To ensure that our business has a sustainable future, developing future talent is a key objective.”
Every year, Cleveland Bridge Group invites a significant number of young people to join our apprenticeship programme. It is a great opportunity for recruits to take their first steps into the engineering industry and represents one of our core workforce development plans. Our programme has even been recognised at a regional and national level, picking up awards for individual apprentices and the apprentice scheme as a whole.
This success can be attributed to Cleveland Bridge Group’s commitment to training and clear communication with the next generation of engineers. We regularly attend school career evenings, university open days and industry events, speaking directly to students about their options and aspirations. We guide and work to inspire their enthusiasm.
Jayne Dover, HR Advisor at Cleveland Bridge, believes that the company is setting the standard for the industry, “The development of our future workforce ratifies our ongoing membership of the 5% Club. This is a group of more than 250 UK companies who have pledged that, within five years, 5% of their workforce will comprise of apprentices and graduates. Cleveland Bridge Group is already exceeding that target.”
However, our investment in talent development extends beyond these early career stages. To provide a wealth of opportunities for our existing workforce, we have doubled our training budget year-on-year for the last three years. We also introduced our STEPS (Supporting, Training, Enhancing People Sustainably) programme in 2018, which provides targeted training, advice and career progression for Cleveland Bridge Group employees.
As part of this programme, we have introduced our own bespoke training courses. From behavioural safety procedures to environmental waste awareness, our curriculum imbues current employees with practical knowledge, nurturing and developing the talent that already exists within the company.
Whether on new recruits or established veterans, it is Cleveland Bridge Group’s strongly held belief that a high level of investment in people is the most effective way to ensure the sustainability and growth of our business.