NXT helps firms looking for talented sta and ambitious Cumbrians searching for their dream career move
Engineering is one of the largest sectors in Cumbria, currently employing around 38,500 people – or 16 per cent of the 235,000 individuals presently in work. Also one of the fastest growing sectors, it is a vital contributor to sustainable growth for both the county and the UK as a whole.
Well known for its substantial footprint – ranking second in the UK – versus its relatively modest head-count, Cumbria holds a wealth of opportunities for the appropriately skilled applicant.
Those with the engineering experi- ence, qualifications and know-how are in particularly high demand.
The ability to find these prized individuals is key to ensuring long-term sustainability of this leading industry and is a skill on which local recruiter NXT prides itself.
Has there always been such a demand for talent in this sector locally?
Yes, engineering and manufacturing are leading sectors in the region.
We have Sellafield on our doorstep which has been a long-standing principal employer with over 10,000 workers, but in addition there are numerous other businesses both large and small placing huge demand on engineering resource.
The need for engineers and professionals to work within this industry is increasing throughout the county.
Retaining talent can also be a challenge due to the level of competition, but it’s heartening to see that businesses are doing more than ever to reward and look after workers, ensuring they know how valued they truly are.
‘NXT is constantly looking for new ways of informing and attracting upcoming talent’
So in that case, engineering would be a recommended career option?
Yes, absolutely! We would encourage anybody to think about a career in engineering. It can open many doors and there are considerable opportunities and avenues for progression on offer with lucrative remuneration packages. Engineering and manufacturing is no longer “a man’s world” and around one in eight workers in the engineering industry is female. We have some fantastic women in the sector in Cumbria, and as a business we are meeting with more female candidates, looking for hands-on engineering openings.
Do you think Cumbrians – schoolchil- dren and students in particular – are aware of the opportunities on their doorstep?
NXT is proud to support local schools and young-person projects, including skills fairs and events such as the World of Work days, run by Inspira. It’s refreshing, in fact, to see how involved and engaged local businesses are with educational establishments – we know we didn’t have this support when we were at school.
In the World of Work sessions, young people get to meet the workers, managers and business owners who are in the industry and in roles that they aspire to attain. They get to have honest conversations and learn about what to expect
– and, importantly, how to get to where they want to be. There’s always more that can be done and developed, of course.
NXT is constantly looking for new ways of informing and attracting upcoming talent, but we feel that we are certainly going in the right direction – and businesses are more open than ever before to reaching out and engaging with external projects which connect them with schools.
Do you have any examples of how you’ve helped recruit to the sector? Can you talk us through what was involved?
Recently we have been working very closely with an engineering business in the north of the county which has plans for dramatic growth over the next five years. We know this because of the strategic meetings we have held with the client and because we have discussed their 12-month, 24-month and up-to-five-year growth plans in detail.
Obviously, to be able to maximise these plans, they need to have the right people in the right place and be in possession of a solid organisational structure.
Throughout the past year, we have implemented a number of key roles for this company, including heads of division and managers, plus a range of entry-level positions in order to grow departments.
We’ve assisted with the creation of job descriptions as it’s important that they are not generic and that they include the additional skills and duties that the person must possess to help grow the business.
We’ve also advised regarding restructuring and succession planning.
It’s essential when working to these objectives to look at the strengths and opportunities already available within the current team.
Maybe someone has been struggling or under-performing in a role because it’s not playing to their strengths, whereas often they will excel in a different department.
We spent time understanding the demands of the business (sales, production, manufacturing) and its busy periods throughout the year.
This enables us to forward plan – to increase the temporary workforce, for example, at certain points, thus avoiding issues and maximising both service and efficiency. Knowing the market well, we also advised on remuneration and talked openly about the challenges we may face when recruiting. This is an ongoing project and we will continue to adapt the structure as the organisation develops.
We love being able to work with businesses in this way and watch them go from strength to strength.
‘We love being able to work with businesses and watch them go from strength to strength’
Why should an engineering candidate look to NXT to find them their perfect role?
We know the sector incredibly well and candidates can count on us to assist in a number of ways. It may be a case of finding an immediate role for them or, alternatively, to discuss their future development and career options.
We can offer informed advice in relation to a particular career route based on current demands of clients and also on market trends. The feedback we have received is testament to our success.
We recently advised an engineering candidate with regard to career options and helped him to progress to a managerial role he had been striving for.
Now an engineering manager at a Workington-based firm, he said: “NXT went above and beyond at every opportunity and I am now thriving within a dream role. I cannot thank everyone at NXT enough.”
How can we as a county attract talent to the region?
Cumbria is perhaps not promoted enough as a place of opportunity. It is as much about keeping people here as it is about attracting people from other areas.
There is a perception that in order to getagoodjobyouneedtomovetoabig city – which we know is not the case!
We need to continue to engage students, and ensure they remain informed about career prospects in Cumbria at as early an age as possible.
This means working ever more closely with schools, colleges, and universities. We also need to look at how we’re promoting the county. A great deal of emphasis is placed upon tourism – and this is very successful, but engineering outside of nuclear doesn’t get enough coverage. Working in recruitment has given us a great insight into the size and scope of the industry but many people are not necessarily aware, and so communicating it to them is key.