As the chemical industry touches everything, from vital medicines, food and clothing, through to housing and transport, communication and leisure activities, the future of industry is vital to the UK economy and it is important that we protect it through the attraction of new talent.
Competition for skills in the chemicals’ sector has never been fiercer. Successfully attracting and managing talented people is a particular challenge. Lingering misconceptions about the industry in general have hampered chemical companies’ ability to attract and recruit. Over time, industry bodies and individual businesses should engage with government, trade associations, educators and with the wider population to help shift this perception.
The fragmentation of the industry across the UK has mostly given rise to positive outcomes in terms of encouraging investment, but it has resulted in the severing of some close working relationships and also in there being fewer circumstances in which personnel can interact closely with one another.
Individuals working in senior roles across the industry have a strong track record of working together but there is less collaboration between people working in positions below board and site management level. In a competitive market, broader aspects of providing networking opportunities and career development in order to address the aspirations of different demographic groups may carry more weight than simply increasing salaries to attract talent.
By implementing programmes to accelerate the development of talent, the chemical industry will be more attractive to those in the early stages of their careers. A philosophy that would apply equally to the manufacturing sector as a whole.
In response, NEPIC has teamed up with the chemicals division at law-firm Bond Dickinson, to launch a Future Leaders network that will aim to establish a network of people working in chemical businesses located initially within the region who are either at the start of their career or keen to broaden their skills and ultimately voice their opinions on behalf of the chemical industry.
The network’s objective is to provide the opportunity to professionals within the sector to enhance their understanding of the chemical industry beyond just their own job, enable them to contribute to the industry’s policy and positions on key issues, and allow them to be involved in building the reputation of the industry by being a key role model and by engaging with stakeholders.
By ensuring that individuals can attend accessible networking and knowledge sharing events through the Future Leaders network, we can help to forge more and better links between those performing similar or related roles at every level across businesses in the sector.
If we can foster a thriving and interactive community across the industry’s employee-base this is likely to increase the attractiveness of the industry to potential new recruits. It is recognised that the chemical sector forms a vital part and plays a valuable contribution to manufacturing in our region.
For more information, or to get involved, please contact Louise Gwynne-Jones.