brexit EU
Engineering Talent – Brexit Talks will be Decisive

The recent ‘The Engineer’ article

highlighted three crucial aspects for next week’s Brexit negotiations which included low tariff trade deals, access to skilled EU workers and training/education incentives for domestic workers. In the article Caroline Milton, Head of Manufacturing at Menzies LLP explained, “SME manufacturers are already considering their options with plans to shift or acquire operations in Europe.” Trade tariffs have been high on the agenda since the head of Germany’s largest business group, the BDI claimed that relations with the rest of their trading counterparts were more important than with the UK despite the obvious strongholds such as UK/German automotive exports. This will certainly not go away and remains a focal point for next week’s discussions as previous tax cuts and reliefs to encourage EU investment is threatened by a ‘hard’ Brexit.

Key aspects in achieving this have to include training and skills development, and investment as any migration would also surely involve the very best talent. The article mentions that a recent Science and Technology Committee study outlines that the digital skills gap is already costing £63 billion in lost GDP and highlights STEM initiatives as being crucial in closing this gap. As a people business which is focused on providing the very best talent to the technical markets including energy, construction, engineering and manufacturing industries, we strongly feel that the allocation of funding to such skills initiatives is critical in keeping and continuing to attract the top talent to these shores. Within our sister engineering companies, Texkimp and SECC, attracting talent from both academic and wider geographic areas has always been key to our broader success. Attracting employees from 4 different European countries and a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Manchester University are prime examples of the successes attained in our pursuit of excellence. This must continue and next week will be a key milestone in our future.


Garry Rogerson MD

join Perpetual partnerships
Your Recruitment Career Starts Here!

Your Recruitment Career Starts Here!

Whether you are an experienced recruiter or new to the industry contact us now to find out what it is which separates Perpetual from the competition. Part of the Queens Award winning Cygnet Group of engineering companies, our mission is to be the number one recruiter of choice based on achievement and celebrating success. So what does this mean to work here:

  • Outstanding career opportunities – advancement into account management, business development or account management roles.
  • Unrivalled training – to unlock true potential.
  • A competitive working environment – from what you can bill to table tennis.
  • Diversity of role – from client meetings to networking events.
  • Fantastic rewards and bonuses – including holidays and days at the races.
  • Exposure to rapidly growing industries – in engineering, manufacturing, energy and the built environment.
  • Flexible working – including flexi-days and home-working opportunities.
  • Uncapped earnings – from a commission scheme which pays up to 50% of billings.

If this has your attention and interest then we want to hear from you – submit your details below or call us on 01606 818154 for more information.


recruiter awards 2017
2017 Recruiter Awards shortlist!

We received some exciting news

Recently that we have been shortlisted for 2 categories in the 2017 Recruiter Awards. The categories we have been shortlisted for are best construction and engineering recruitment agency and best client service. This in itself is a significant achievement given how competitive the awards and specific categories are and it is testimony to the great work of our entire team.

We pride ourselves on delivering the highest standards of customer service in all our dealings and this represents a good marker for the levels we have achieved. Our customer charter is underpinned with 5 key principles including quality and expertise, transparency and integrity, partnership, efficiency and genuine consultation. We believe that everyone we bring into the business buys into this as our culture and is part of what sets us apart from the competition.

To see the full shortlist please click here Now we have been shortlisted the next objective has to be to win. Watch this space….

northern powerhouse
What is the Northern Powerhouse – by Ben Appleton (Head of Senior Appointments)

The long anticipated “Northern Powerhouse”

funding was recently confirmed by Theresa May’s government. This is viewed as a really positive step towards funding the continued growth of Northern industry and innovation. Being a “northerner”, it does, however, stimulate some thought to provoke questions…..

What is the “Northern Powerhouse”? Why does it have a “brand”? Why is it a separate policy to other UK investment? Why has this taken so long to be recognised? Is this the first movement towards a northern devolution??

Here in the North, we have survived booms and recessions continuing to innovate and manufacture the greatest British products often without the support and the infrastructure long needed. For a long time the fantastic Manufacturing, Engineering, Energy and Scientific industry of the North has been raising the bar for innovation and manufacturing.

The Northern Powerhouse is the brainchild of George Osborne who recognised the importance of Northern industry contribution to the UK economy current and future. When thinking about how this should be recognised perhaps we in the North aren’t the best at promoting our successes and needed this brand in a time when too often investment looked inwardly to the capital. This explains the second question that rightly or wrongly it required promotion. It is interesting however, that there has been an inherent perversity of local authorities having control of only five per cent of their money raised within their boundaries meaning to a certain extent it has had limited control on investment. So then can this be seen as the beginnings of devolution of the North? Separate policy and funding for areas of the UK? More control over funding? It certainly suggests that whichever political party wants to win the next general election will need to have a clear policy towards devolution.

Rightly, wrongly or belatedly it has been brought to the attention of the government and actioned and should be seen not as a huge win but a step in the right direction for the government and attitudes towards Northern innovation and industry. For me, working within Northern industry, we have always been a Northern Powerhouse and it is finally being recognised what a huge value the North has in shaping the future post-Brexit economy. We should never have needed the branding from the current government but it has generated significant support and backing across the UK. Looking into the funding, the details are as follows:

The £556m investment that will be split between the region’s 11 local enterprise partnerships.

The cash boost, first announced in the Autumn Statement, will go towards a series of projects including Goole Intermodal Terminal, £10m for the Greater Manchester and Cheshire Life Sciences Fund, and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sunderland.

The government said a key part of the strategy’s green paper, published today (23 January 2017), was offer to businesses the chance to strike new ‘sector deals’, driven by the interests of companies and the people they employ, to address sector-specific challenges and opportunities.

As part of the deals, a range of support will be on offer, including addressing regulatory barriers to innovation and growth, looking at how trade and investment deals can be used to increase exports or supporting the creation of new institutions to provide leadership, support innovation or boost skills.

The green paper also sets out technologies where Britain has strengths in research and development which could be supported through the government’s new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, including: smart energy technologies; robotics and artificial intelligence and 5G mobile network technology. This fund is part of £4.7bn of additional R&D funding announced by the Prime Minister in November.

In the North of England, £556m will be spent on a series of projects. They include:

  • Goole Intermodal Terminal which will mean the town’s existing rail, sea, motorway and inland waterway links into one site, providing an integrated transport facility for business
  • A 21st-century conference centre and hotel in Blackpool at the Winter Gardens
  • £10m for the Greater Manchester and Cheshire Life Sciences Fund to provide capital to local small and medium businesses
  • Flood resilience measures in Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Kirklees and Leeds
  • Building the International Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sunderland and South Tyneside – helping to create an estimated 5,200 jobs

In addition, the government has revealed how the Northern Powerhouse funding pot will be split among the region’s LEPs:

  • North Eastern £49.7m
  • Cumbria £12.7m
  • Tees Valley £21.8m
  • York, North Yorkshire, East Riding £23.7m
  • Lancashire £69.8m
  • Humber £27.9m
  • Leeds City Region £67.5m
  • Liverpool City Region £72.0m
  • Greater Manchester £130.1m
  • Sheffield City Region £37.8m
  • Cheshire and Warrington £43.3m


To conclude the investment in the Northern Powerhouse will go a long way to providing much-needed funding to promote business opportunities in local industry. It remains to be seen but it remains to be seen whether this paves the way for Northern Devolution.

wind energy
Lack of energy policy affecting new UK projects

On 18th November the UK government

ratified the Paris Agreement to mitigate CO2 emissions from 2020.  Greg Clarke, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is hailing this move as a “clear signal that cutting emissions globally will not only help countries respond to the impact of climate change, [but one that] is also compatible with economic growth.”

However, Mr Clarke is guilty of limiting the UK’s economic growth by delaying the announcement of the government’s energy policy and their subsequent priorities for reducing carbon emissions through new power generation projects.  The government’s lack of focus on energy in the Autumn statement frustrated many businesses, leading the CEO of Inenco Group, Gary Stokes, to write an open letter to Mr Clarke, stating “Businesses were hopeful that the Autumn Statement would deliver more clarity, from the future of the Carbon Price Support, to the cost of supporting low carbon technology beyond 2020 and were left disappointed at the lack of focus on energy.”

Like many businesses focused on the UK energy sector, Perpetual Partnerships is hoping that the government will provide clarity on how it plans to meet the obligations of the Paris Agreement and allow the sector to move forward with new projects sooner rather than later.

Steve Higham
LTD but not limited

Over the past 12 months

Perpetual Partnerships have seen a huge growth in personnel and are now heading in new and exciting directions.  A fundamental area of this growth is apparent in our Manufacturing and Engineering contracts division; which is now being headed by Steve Higham who joined our team in November.

Steve has a wealth of experience in contract as well as all the major areas of recruitment and has shown increased ability to offer and deliver the desired 360’ approach.  With a total of 5 years of experience within the industry, Steve has developed an extremely hard working and dedicated approach to all tasks. He knows how the contract industry works and is confident in his ability to find the perfect engineer to fill the post quickly. As organisation, quick thinking and networking skills are key in this sector, Steve fits the bill and has already become an important cog in the Perpetual Machine.

What does this mean for Perpetual? Perpetual will now become a key player in the all areas of recruitment. We are already a renowned permanent workforce provider, and we will now strive to become leaders in supplying contractor resource.

So, what does this mean for our clients? You can find everything you need under one roof. A dedicated team working for you and managed by people who know you. A quick completion of any job with quality people is our number one aim and to offer a dedicated after care solution for all contract workers.

We are all looking forward to our further developments and wish Steve a happy and productive future as one of the Perpetual Partnerships family.

If you are a client with contractor needs or a contractor looking for your next role, please contact Steve Higham on 01606 535061 or


retaining people
Retaining Top Industry Talent

On 19th October

Perpetual Partnerships welcomed 30 HR and leadership professionals from the Engineering, Manufacturing and Built Environment sector to our parent engineering company, Cygnet Group in Northwich. The subject is on very close to the heart of a growing number of businesses both large and small, retaining top industry talent. In partnership with the Leadership Team the mornings content was delivered by Garry Rogerson, MD and Ben Appleton, Head of Senior Appointments and designed to be an interactive seminar with plenty of opportunity to share ideas and experiences.


During the beginning of my recruitment career without doubt  the most satisfaction I felt in recruitment was in finding the ideal candidate for a “tough to fill” role. The sound of the candidates excitement for the “job of their dreams”, the client, relieved and impressed by your level of service. As time went by, however there would be the occasional phone call from the candidate 3-6 months later asking for help as the role was “no longer for them”. Naturally this puts a strain on all party relationships. When I became more experienced I began to realise that it was far more satisfying when the phone didn’t ring and the candidate forged a long-term career and the phone call was one of a client asking for help to recruit. It was then I realised retention was far more important to my client. It begged the question, how much does poor retention cost a business? How much does it cost the industry? Why do candidates leave? Why do they stay? How does a business keep its top talent in competitive market conditions?

The Cost of poor retention

From research by a variety of sources it costs UK industry £4.13 billion which is indeed an incredible amount. What does it cost a business? When a candidate leaves and needs replacing it costs on average £28,614 which is all the more staggering given this is a base figure! It is not just inclusive of the recruitment costs, the time spent interviewing (this costs on average £5.5K), it also includes the loss in productivity that hits a business hard. Consider it takes 28 weeks for a new recruit to get up to speed. So why does a business lose its best people?

Why do people leave?

Often people get hung up on the hard facts such as distance to work, salary, bonus. In the main people don’t leave for money believe it or not. After breaking into groups during the seminar most came to the conclusions that in the words of Dale Carnegie, people leave people. Meaning they leave because they are not stimulated, don’t have support etc. They are mainly behavioural and career related challenges. All the things that should be provided by good leadership.

What are the things you can do to prevent people leaving?

Day one is so important! We examined the importance of the opening impression the business has on new employees and the first few weeks are vital. Specifically, we looked at the significance a good induction has on creating the right impression when a person starts in a new business. The feeling of belonging is crucial in any new employee/employer relationship and a good induction is the start of ensuring this process is effective. Most of us agreed in the different groups that the importance of understanding the business goals and vision as well as culture and values is imperative in achieving individual buy-in. At Cygnet for example, great importance is placed on sharing the family company values that the whole business is based on. Something as simple as the Group CEO meeting every single new employee to set out his own beliefs, values and vision for the business has such a powerful impact and is critical in retaining our top talent. Following this, there is also great importance placed on training plans and succession planning so people know how they will develop their skills and achieve their potential in a business.

Perpetuals role in helping our clients retain top talent

We are increasingly being asked to help with ideas on how we can assist companies with retaining talent. Having seen new employees leave businesses based on simple things such as not having a desk on day one or not having access to their manager in the first weeks, we can focus our attention on the ‘low hanging fruit’ in the first instance. We have been asked by a number of businesses to help broker the initial relationship by providing feedback from candidates on how they are doing in those crucial time periods of one and three months. These ‘harmonisation’ reports have been key in developing both company inductions and also identifying and eradicating the repeat issues which affect employee happiness when they join the business. In summary, the seminar confirmed our feelings and findings from our research, that leaders are hugely concerned about keeping hold of their top talent but were not aware of the true cost if they get it wrong. We believe this will become increasingly as important as attracting talent in the first place and we believe developing the tools, processes and consultancy advice we offer has to be time and resources well spent. Certainly for the businesses we represent, focus on the areas I have discussed in this article to ensure new employees are retained will equally be time and resources well spent.

history of engineering
A Timeline Of UK Engineering

What Is Engineering?

The accepted definition of engineering is ‘the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building and use of engines, machines and structures’.

It isn’t surprising to learn that the term ‘engineer’ was first used in a military context, to describe a maker of machines used for this purpose, e.g. catapults.

The roots of the word ‘engine’ go back a little further, to the 13th century, when the word, derived from the Latin ‘ingenium’ was first used to describe a product of “innate quality, especially mental power, hence a clever invention.” (This description comes from Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary of 2006).

So, from these broad roots, it’s unsurprising that ‘engineering’ has come to have such a diverse meaning, but essentially covering innovation in and manufacturing of clever machines, devices and solutions to physical-world problems.

The Three Phases Of Engineering Innovation

Engineering can be thought of as having developed in three waves, and we will split this article to cover one each of these. These are, in chronological order, the industrial/Victorian age, the motor age, and the computer/digital age. To keep these articles reasonably ‘bite-sized’, we will split them into one for each of these categories, beginning with when the industrial development of the UK as we know it is generally considered to have begun in earnest.

The industrial/Victorian Age And The Beginning Of Mass Production

In its earliest days, the evolution of engineering was heavily associated with improvements in practises in agriculture, designed to boost productivity, and remove some of the manual labour involved in planting and harvesting crops.

This led to the invention of new tools which helped greatly improve the health of farm workers through reducing the effort needed to plant and harvest crops, notably the refinement of the seed drill developed by Jethro Tull, and first used in the UK in 1701 – which allowed for even spacing of seeds as they were planted, so greatly increasing yields and productivity.

Unknotting Problems In Textile Production

But the true father of modern industrial methods is generally considered to be Sir Richard Arkwright. Again, his innovations were designed to improve productivity, but his field of specialism was the textiles industry, which was growing strongly in his native Derbyshire and elsewhere across the Midlands and northern England.

Arkwright’s first taste of entrepreneurship came when he tried to set up a business travelling around the country buying human hair to use to make wigs. Although this soon ran into trouble, he had made good contacts among working cotton weavers and spinners, and used these to help him refine James Hargreaves’ original ‘Spinning Jenny’ design, to produce a machine which involved less physical labour, yet produced a stronger yarn. He patented his wool carding machine in 1775.

Before his death, in 1792, Arkwright also became the first man to adapt James Watt’s invention of the steam engine to use it as a means of powering a loom for producing cotton. Arguably the first industrial tycoon, he established factories in Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Lancashire and Scotland, and became a wealthy man.

Building The Links Between Goods And Their Markets

Once the products of these huge new mills started to be produced in large amounts, the next hurdle to making them widely available to the people was to develop a transport infrastructure which allowed all parts of the country to be accessed reasonably easily.

So the next major development was the development of railways – and again, engineering expertise was the facilitator which enabled them to be developed and spread widely.

Historian David Starkie has argued that the roads, canals, railways and ports which made Britain into the first great worldwide industrial power could not have come about without the foresight of the first generation of consulting engineers: “Shareholders took most of the risks, but specialists took the strategic decisions, initially the consulting engineers,” he wrote.

Foremost among these was George Stephenson, who built the world’s first commercially-viable locomotive, and went on to design and build the world’s first public railway, which ran from Stockton to Darlington, on Teesside, and opened in 1825. He followed this with the first railway to run directly between two major cities, the Liverpool and Manchester railway of 1830.

However, Stephenson only did for the railways what Thomas Telford had achieved for canals, a generation earlier. These provided the first means of transporting bulk quantities of goods over long distances. Compared with railways, canals required minimal engineering, as many were cut in straight lines as far as possible. But the engineering expertise came into its own when they required bridges (aqueducts) and locks, as means of carrying them across valleys and up and down steep inclines. In devising notable means of doing this, such as the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, near Llangollen in north Wales, Telford was the first person to challenge the preconception that man-made structures had to fit in with, and where needed, around, existing natural features. So its opening, in 1805, became a template for the work of Stephenson just a few decades later.

Engineering’s Role In Creating An Empire

In this context, you could argue that the first true engineers to have an impact on our country were, in fact, the Romans. That’s because they realised the importance of being able to travel quickly between their major settlements – not just so that they could stay abreast of what was happening, but also in order to be able to easily transport goods in and out. So they built a network of roads which eventually stretched to more than 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometres), much of which is still in use today.

Roman engineers loved a challenge – they would rather have found a solution to enable them to build a road straight across an obstacle than take a more circuitous route around it.

In many ways, their desire to find long-term solutions to a problem which might only, in itself, be short-term or temporary, has been the founding principle of engineering ever since. It’s certainly what has distinguished many of the great pioneers of the discipline whose work has helped change the face of our country.

So when Britain was itself in expansionist mood throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, it was realised that expertise in building a working infrastructure, and routes which could be used for trade purposes, was one of the most important assets it could spread around the world.

In a second article in this series, we will look at the advent of motorisation and mass production, and examine how these formed the basis for the world we live in today.

Engineering, in its many forms, has been elementary in creating the modern, prosperous society we live in today. If you want to play a major part in keeping that prosperity going long into the future, why not consider directing your talents towards a career in one of the many sectors of modern engineering?

woman engineer
5 Ways To Attract Top Talent To Your Business

5 Ways To Attract Top Talent To Your Business

If you’re running a small business which you want to see expand, are you being held back because it’s an uphill battle to find the right calibre of workers?

Well, you’re certainly not alone, and Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, a professional body representing more than 3,200 recruitment firms all over the UK, said pressure was being felt equally among companies and organisations of all sizes.

One in three out of a sample of 1,000 business people questioned recently for a poll said recruitment of suitably qualified staff was a challenge for their operation, while just a quarter said it was easy for them to find staff with the skills they were looking for.

It said just under three out of 10 employers had hired new staff in the past year, and with unemployment rates in the UK at a near 30-year low, and edging down towards five per cent, “data indicates that it will become increasingly difficult for employers to find staff”.

Money Talks

As a result, pay rises are becoming a vital tool in helping firms hold on to their most valued staff, with just under half (47 per cent) saying they’d had to increase what they were paying to attract and retain the best workers.

But what if you can’t afford to keep upping your staff’s wages, but really want to hold on to the people you’ve got?

A recent Telegraph survey took views from a range of recruitment specialists and business people on their key factors in ensuring that the staff they took on wanted to stay with their firm, and would not be tempted to be constantly looking out for their next move.

You’ve Got To Have A Strategy…

From this, it came up with a list of the five key elements behind a successful hiring and retention strategy, which it listed as follows:

  1. Court your target staff and make the recruitment process as streamlined as possible – With candidates having so much choice over their likely next career move, businesses need to know where anyone looking to change jobs in their sector is likely to look. Once they know that, companies need to assure their target recruits that they won’t hang about over making a decision, so that candidates know where they stand at all stages, and can manage the process of switching from one employer to another as easily and sensitively as possible.
  1. Think laterally – By not being afraid to engage with less conventional people, you could find someone who can become really influential on the direction your business takes and bring some new ideas to the table. Citing computing pioneer Alan Turing as an example, Dr Nasser Siabi OBE, boss of assistive technology company Microlink PC, points out that sometimes, those who don’t appear to immediately fit in with your ideal of your perfect employee can bring on board the creativity and imagination – and the fearlessness to express their ideas – which might take a business to the next level.
  1. Hire someone for their personal skills rather than the number of boxes they tick on a job spec – For many candidates, proving they have experience in most aspects of the tasks and attributes listed on a ‘person specification’ for a job won’t actually show whether they will be good at doing the job. Skills can be taught, so don’t get caught up on them,” advises Ricky Martin, former BBC TV The Apprentice winner who now runs his own recruitment firm. For those looking to recruit a highly skilled set of employees that might be counter-intuitive – but the right person will be keen and happy to learn the fine skills needed to do the job, and will have learned what they need to know ‘your’ way rather than someone else’s.
  1. Don’t overlook the importance of work-life balance benefits – For example, staff might welcome chances to take a sabbatical to go travelling, or just to deal with a personal issue. More mundanely, giving them the flexibility to be able to share in bringing up children, even if it’s just picking them up from nursery a couple of times a week, or going with them on medical appointments is likely to be a big plus in the eyes of many candidates trying to fit in their family duties alongside their work.
  1. Recognise people’s strengths, and ensure that their duties give them the best possible opportunities to use them – Many creative people find administrative tasks frustratingly dull. So give them the help they need to get these out of the way as quickly as possible, so they can concentrate on being creative! Equally important can be ensuring that people have access to the technology they need to work in the ways which suit them best. Provided people know what’s expected of them, and their objectives are measured, they’ll be much happier being left to get on and do their work in the way which works best for them.

Working productively with a group of people requires ‘give and take’ on both sides. But as an employer setting out to recruit and keep together a good team, it can help you achieve your business’s objectives if you keep an open mind about every candidate you meet, and don’t simply focus on what you’re offering them in terms of the work you want them to do. So leave your preconceptions and prejudices at the interview room door – and see where your instinct leads you.
Do you have any individual ways in which you evaluate the suitability of would-be employees? Let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

3D printing
How Manufacturing Has Changed Over The Years

The landscape and main features of the UK’s industries and manufacturing have changed beyond all recognition over the past two centuries – and in turn, these have wrought massive transformations in the lives of the people involved in them, and on the communities in which they live.

In the main, these advances have been focused on new and improved means of production, along with improvements in materials used in manufacturing processes, which in turn have brought about many less labour-intensive and safer methods of manufacturing many of the goods we use but often take for granted in our daily lives.


Early Days To The Present Day – How Far Have We Come?

According to the national census of 1841, 36% of the UK population worked in manufacturing. By 2011, that figure was down to just a quarter of this proportion, reflecting a major shift away from labour-intensive types of manufacturing to more skilled and specialised fields.

And whereas in the 19th century, there were various pockets of manufacturing spread widely across the country, by the early 21st century, the country’s remaining manufacturing capacity had become heavily concentrated in particular areas, with Corby, in Northamptonshire in the East Midlands boasting the highest proportion of its population working in manufacturing, at 23.7%, or nearly one in four of the town’s entire workforce.

Today, manufacturing is generally on a much smaller scale, and because of this, it has become part of a much broader base of communities throughout the country.

And whereas much manufacturing in the British Isles in the 19th and 20th centuries was heavy, labour-intensive work, today there is much more emphasis on smaller, precision-made items – and indeed, one of the biggest growth areas of the next few years looks set to be in nano-technology, whereby the items manufactured are measured in tiny fractions of an inch or centimetre – to give you some idea, one inch (2.54 centimetres) is equal to 25.4million nanometres.

But it isn’t just in terms of scale that we can measure how manufacturing has progressed over time. Oxford Economics has singled out the main current drivers of change in manufacturing as ‘Big Data”, the internet of things, mobile computing, and the cloud.


Other Big Landmarks

Professor Pat Hudson collaborated with the BBC in 2011 on a series called The Workshop Of The World, which examined how Britain came to earn that title.

He pinpointed technology as one of the main drivers of change, but also the fact that ways in which production was organised helped the nation keep its place as a major economic power. In turn, the latter helped bring prices down, meaning that the new machinery started to come within the means of the average household.

The 1790s to 1860s were years of massive change in the way industry was financed, and parallel population growth also meant the plentiful availability of labour for the new industrial processes which were coming to the fore.

While in the early part of this period, canals were the main transport arteries for getting goods from A to B, by the end of this time, the period which historians call The Railway Age was in full swing. The new steam-powered engines hauled passenger carriages and freight wagons, and provided fast, direct connections between all major towns and cities, as well as linking more isolated communities with their main markets.

However, there were huge differences in the relative pace of industrialisation across different parts of the country – and even though the stereotypical picture of the industrial landscape at this time is of many hundreds of workers toiling away in huge, warehouse-style factories, much production remained on a very small scale, which gave rise to the phrase ‘cottage industries’, which we still use today to describe businesses which operate at a micro level.

Today, the pendulum has swung the other way, and while there has been a huge decline in the number of people working in manufacturing – the sector employed 36 per cent of the working-age population in 1841, but by 2011 that had shrunk to nine per cent – that statistic alone paints a distorted picture.

Overall, manufacturing has grown by 1.4 per cent a year since 1948, according to the government’s number-crunchers at the Office for National Statistics.


Small Is Beautiful (Again)

But this growth has largely been achieved against a backdrop of a return to smaller-scale manufacturing – with many businesses working in highly-specialised fields and employing far fewer staff than their large predecessors.

Rather than trying to compete with the new, emerging industrial nations such as China, Russia and India – where the UK is at a massive disadvantage in terms of the size of its available workforce, which means these countries can produce many basic necessities, such as coal, iron and steel, far more cheaply – the UK has therefore shifted the focus of its industrial base to production of specialised items, and those which are in greatest demand in the world’s most developed nations (sometimes referred to as the G8).

One of the biggest ‘new’ sectors to have emerged in recent times is the manufacture of semiconductors. From $33billlion (£24.9 billion) in 1987, the value of the total world market for these is forecast to have grown to 10 times that size in the ensuing 30 years.

Semiconductors and computer chips are at the heart of most of the devices we use today – yet in its character and scale this industry is light years away from those which we once considered to be the main drivers of our economy.

The main differences between this industry and older ones on which Britain’s manufacturing capability was founded are:

  • It is more highly skilled: Its workforce has faced up to the challenge of producing far more complex items, which has meant it has needed workers with more specialised knowledge;
  • It produces far higher-value goods: Today’s manufacturing workforce in the UK is concentrated in sectors which produce more highly-specialised, higher-value goods, such as the semiconductors mentioned earlier, but also vehicles and accessories, and other components for computers and connected devices;
  • It doesn’t involve most of its workers getting their hands dirty: It might only be a small detail, but this is one of the most significant. Working in a steel mill, or down a coal mine, were notoriously grimy jobs. Today’s factory floor is more likely to be staffed by people in neat overalls, or even white coats, rather than boiler suits.
  • Working hours are more widely controlled: While it remains to be seen whether there will be any changes resulting from Brexit, at the time of writing, the UK still has controls over a worker’s maximum number of working hours. However, such regulations only came into force in 1988, and up to this time, the number of hours each employee worked was a result of either direct negotiations between employer and employee, or their trade union.
  • The UK’s workers are generally more productive than those in our biggest competitors: Official figures show that the price of goods produced in the UK per hour worked is the lowest of all the G7 countries except China. So this shows the scale of our emphasis on higher-value, specialised products.
  • Technology and automation are at the heart of everything we make: While there are many successful companies still making humble, basic industrial components such as screws and washers, the UK has fully embraced what’s sometimes called ‘the fourth industrial revolution’ – which its proponents say will take the advances produced by mass digitisation of the systems and information we all now use and need, and take them in new, as yet unanticipated, directions. Finally;
  • We are living in a global economy: Exporting has always been an important element of the UK’s achievements and standing in the world. But while at the time of writing, there is much discussion over how our relationship with the rest of the European Union will change as a consequence of Brexit, it has never been easier for anyone to share and distribute data, information, and physical goods, around the world. The growth of transport and logistics networks has happened as a necessary consequence of this greater need for the ability to get goods to anywhere in the world – and in turn, it has become a new industrial sector in its own right.


Salt Of The Earth

Here in Cheshire, of course, we still have the remnants of one of the longest-surviving large-scale industries anywhere in the UK – salt mining and processing.

Salt has been mined in the areas around Northwich, Middlewich and Nantwich since Roman times, and while it continues to this day, the uses to which the raw product is put have changed massively.

Improved techniques have also greatly increased the amount of time a salt production plant can spend in operation between ‘boil out’ periods – that is, the times which are spent out of use for deep cleaning of the salt from all moving parts so as to avoid corrosion.

While salt mining and processing is one of the few industries which has remained at the heart of Cheshire’s economy throughout its history, it has fared somewhat better than other traditional industries – and is well-placed to stay as a major feature of our landscape for many years to come.

But our industrial landscape has also changed, in line with the advances outlined earlier in this article. And as our future prosperity depends heavily on our continued ability to lead in both old and new industries, how well we adapt to these changes, and others which no-one can yet foresee, will be key to our future prospects.
What have been the most striking – and important – changes in the industrial landscape you have witnessed in your lifetime, and why? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Let us know on our Facebook page.

happy recruitment
How To Build A Better Workplace

Every year, hundreds of companies put themselves forward for recognition for their efforts to attract and retain the right staff through their efforts to create a great place to work.

And from the submissions, a team of assessors from the contest’s organisers, consultancy firm Great Place to Work, whittles down the list to a top 50 in three categories, based on company size: small (20 to 49 employees), medium (50 to 499 employees), and large (500 or more employees).

The finalists in each of these three categories for the 2016 awards come from a variety of sectors, but both recruitment firms and IT consultancies featured heavily in the top 20 of small workplaces, with a number of small manufacturers making it into the medium-sized firms list, with IT, recruitment and not-for-profit/charity organisations also well represented.

At the top end size-wise, familiar names making their mark on the list included McDonald’s Restaurants, pet supplies retailer Pets at Home – based, like us at Perpetual, in Cheshire – and food and confectionery manufacturer Mars UK.


Employee Feedback…

Great Places To Work rounded up views from employees working at 100 of the top-ranked companies across all three categories, and from among those it received the following feedback:

Large category:

  • “Everyone helps out everyone. It’s an amazing store to be working in. It’s practically my dream job”
  • “We are encouraged to step out of our comfort zones and take on new things, but always in a safe environment which accepts mistakes as opportunities”
  • “I joined the apprenticeship scheme after leaving school and have worked in different hotels and cities. There are so many opportunities here.”

Medium category:

  • “The diverse, thoughtful and talented team make it a pleasure to come to work and help us deliver outstanding work every day.”
  • “My colleagues are empowered to constantly come up with new ways to make work fun and inspiring and to create a truly great place to work.”
  • “The company really does create opportunities for employees to have a work-life balance by hosting events and activities for us to get involved in.”

Small category:

  • “I look forward to coming in to work and collaborating with down-to-earth, witty, intelligent people. We’re a small team but together we pack a big punch.”
  • “The levels of trust and autonomy given to employees [are] unique; this is a supportive and progressive workplace.”
  • “[The company] has strong values that everyone lives by. I love that the company cares about me, my family and my personal and professional growth.”Right at the top of the tree, as the best big company to work for is Softcat, a software developer, which has a strong track record of success in similar polls throughout most of its 20-year history.                                                                                                                        

Its founder, Peter Kelly, wanted to create a company which broke away from the mass of “run-of-the-mill, soulless and anonymous corporates”. In this respect, he says, he has removed responsibility for overall staff welfare from a dedicated HR department, and instead invested all of his employees with the responsibility of making their colleagues feel valued.                                                 

As is common with many modern businesses, Softcat doesn’t manufacture or sell any products of its own – instead, it re-sells third party IT solutions. This, said Mr Kelly, means the business has to differentiate itself through “the attitude of our employees and quality and enthusiasm of the customer service we offer.”


Staff Satisfaction

Staff are asked every year for their input into a satisfaction survey, and the boss sets aside a week to pore over the submissions. Ensuring that “staff feel they have a stake in the direction of the company” is high on his priority list, and that applies even though most of its staff are at relatively early stages in their careers.

Meanwhile, the smallest company to take a top spot at the awards, Foundation SP, is also in the tech sector, and develops technology and software solutions for other firms and organisations.

It was also praised for its dedication to ensuring that family life was given a high priority among its staff, ranking equally in importance alongside personal and professional development.


Creating Great Culture

To that end, its CEO, Simon Grosse, introduced a company mantra, which he has called ‘how it feels’, aimed at ensuring that this aspect of the company and its work is always being looked at, from the point of view of both employees and clients.

“Our values focus on creating a great culture in which employees and clients feel engaged, rewarded and happy,” he said.

The result, Mr Grosse added, was “a shared purpose, shared vision and a collective team spirit”. This has even extended to half of the company’s strategic goals being determined as a result of round-table staff meetings.

Lots of the principles applied by the businesses quoted in this article can also be adapted to help other companies make themselves more attractive to their current staff and potential new recruits.

But what sets the companies in the higher reaches of the Best Workplaces rankings apart from most of their contemporaries is that they score consistently far higher in the eyes of their staff in five key criteria:

  • Recognition given to staff
  • Rewards given to staff (not just in a financial sense)
  • Talent management
  • Values and ethics, and
  • Trust in the leadership.

So any business which wants to mark itself out as a great employer, and following on from that, attract the right staff to help it grow and prosper, should check out, for plenty of help and advice, as well as the lowdown on the firms you’ll be competing with to attract, and keep hold of, ‘la creme de la creme’.

To get advice to help you in your business’s growth and development plans, and how to get the right staff to drive them forward, contact Perpetual Partnerships today.

brexit EU
Will Brexit hit UK Manufacturing?

It’s a hot topic just now – as the country starts to take in the ramifications of the decisive vote on 23 June, when the electorate decided by 55% to 45% that Britain’s future lay outside the European Union, every part of the economy is digesting the news, and trying to make sense of what it means for their future plans and direction.

No decision taken by voters in half a century is expected to have such a wide impact on the country’s future – and even though the outcome was decisive, disentangling ties and trading arrangements built up over that time is sure to be a protracted process, and one which is sure to bring to the surface tensions and differences which a mere half-century make seem like a temporary spat.

So before the talks get under way in earnest, now is the time for sober reflection, and possibly considered thought over what a world outside the EU might look like.

The Rollercoaster Takes A Dip

But there are reasons to think that the early signs of prospects for manufacturing and engineering in the UK aren’t good. A report at the end of July from the Engineering Employers’ Federation found that members’ confidence had dipped in all parts of the UK since the EU referendum result had been announced.

The Federation’s annual report uses data gathered from members, along with the government’s Office for National Statistics to draw a picture of the levels of confidence among manufacturers. It came to the unequivocal conclusion that “manufacturers’ business confidence has taken an across the board beating”, with every English and Welsh region registering a downturn in optimism.

Measuring participants’ confidence as a score out of 10, the EEF found that it had dropped from 6.37 pre-referendum to 5.24 in the weeks which followed.

In the north-west, the degree to which many manufacturers depend on continuing support from an overseas parent business was laid bare, with more than a quarter (28 per cent) expressing fears over whether they might continue to be treated fairly. More generally, nearly six out to 10 firms in this region identified their biggest concern as possible weaker demand for their products.

Worryingly, a quarter of manufacturers in the north-west of England claimed they couldn’t see any new opportunities arising for them as a result of Brexit.

When it comes to what manufacturers want to see in order that confidence can be built,  a solid business environment, supportive policies and the right outcome from Brexit negotiations should get sentiment back on track.

While recognising the scale of the negative sentiment in the sector in general, Lee Hopley, Chief Economist at the EEF, nevertheless reiterated that engineering firms have experienced all kinds of economic conditions, and have often succeeded by facing such challenges head-on.

“The referendum outcome has provided a jolt and it’s clear that there are fresh challenges ahead,” she said.


Time For ‘UK plc’ To Show Its Mettle

“Exchange rate volatility, political uncertainty and the danger of increased costs are already causing concern across the regions and business confidence is in short supply. But our sector is nothing if not dynamic, determined and resilient. UK manufacturing remains a force to be reckoned with.”

She stressed, however, that “a solid business environment, supportive policies and the right outcome from Brexit negotiations allowing for trade and ongoing access to skilled workers” were now essential for ensuring that the sector could defy the doom-mongers and find a clear path forward.

Tom Lawton, partner and head of manufacturing at accountancy firm BDO – which co-compiles the EEF’s report – added that many businesses had had time to adapt to the likely outcome ahead of the vote, and said its outcome “should not detract from the fact that UK manufacturing performance over the last 12 months has been strong with six (out of ten) regions seeing an increase in output.”

He said many businesses would be heartened by the promise from Prime Minister Theresa May of “a proper industrial strategy”, and challenged her by adding: “We would like to see the Government match manufacturers’ long-term outlook by developing a 15-20 year industrial policy that avoids the disruptions of the political cycle.”


Weaker Pound To Come To The Rescue?

Industry editor for the Telegraph, Alan Tovey, noting that the manufacturing sector still  represents 10 per cent of the UK’s £1.8 trillion GDP, added that the depreciation of sterling against other currencies since the ‘leave’ vote should, in the short term at least, provide a boost, because it “makes exports cheaper, with buying British becoming more attractive to foreign purchasers who suddenly find their currency goes a lot further.”

At the same time, he added, it should also mean “a short-term boost to Britain’s internal market, with manufacturers more likely to source components for their products domestically as buying abroad becomes more expensive.”

Sales among UK manufacturing companies are split roughly equally among Europe, the United States and the rest of the world, pointed out Jo Reedman, senior capital goods analyst at N+1 Singer. As a result, she agreed that the weaker pound should bolster efforts to remain competitive and sell products well beyond the boundaries of the EU.


Mixed Messages For The Motor Industry

With the UK’s motor industry boasting very strong international – not just European – links, Prof David Bailey, an analyst of the sector from Aston University, Birmingham, said Brexit would be a double-edged sword. While it will make exports more competitive, and so possibly boost sales, with consequent increases in production to meet demand, “it will also increase the cost of importing components, and about 60pc of the components that go into UK assembled cars are imported.”

Given that, under the Lisbon Treaty, the negotiations which will eventually lead to the UK breaking its formal ties with the rest of the EU could take up to two years – and that includes provisions for negotiating alternative trade agreements – it’s expected that many firms will continue with ‘business as usual’ for the immediate future, and there should be no reasons why this approach won’t bear fruit.

But, as Capita Translating – a business which has a vested interest in see the UK continue to trade with as many nations around the world as possible – points out: “The bad news is that trade deals take an excruciatingly long time to negotiate – in 2009 the EU ended a 15-year dispute with Latin American countries over importing bananas! But, being such a big trade partner to the EU means they are more likely to want to agree a deal quicker.”

So, for now, there are no reasons why prospects for manufacturing in the UK should be downgraded. And indeed, right now, with a low pound, and existing trading agreements still running their course, it’s a good time to be looking to spread the ‘Made in the UK’ message anywhere around the world.

Garry Rogerson Recruitment
Perpetual Partnerships launches pioneering recruitment apprenticeship

Cheshire technical recruiter

Perpetual Partnerships has an apprenticeship programme designed to help young people build careers in the recruitment industry.

The scheme will be delivered as a joint venture with apprenticeship training provider Total People and will offer hands-on experience, mentoring and theoretical training.

The first apprentice to join the programmes is 18 year old Molly Riley from Northwich.

Garry Rogerson, managing director of Perpetual, which specialises in the engineering, manufacturing, architecture and surveying industries, said “This is a momentous leap for our industry, which has never before had an official apprenticeship scheme with recognised standards.

We want to make recruitment career of choice for talented young people by offering them a professional qualification and clear and credible career path.”

Responsible people
The Outlook For Hiring Staff In 2016

Job interview cartoon

2016 is likely to be the year here in the UK when we really find out how strong the much-touted economic recovery is.

On the face of it, many of the building blocks seem to be in place to enable the country to enjoy a prosperous year – we have a majority government for the first time in five years, inflation is benign, and unemployment is low and still falling.

In fact, in the three months to November 2015, 5.1 per cent of the working age population were jobless – this compares with a long-term average of just under 7.2 per cent throughout the period from 1971 to 2015.


Hooking The Right Fish In A Smaller Pool

When the number of jobless people falls to such low levels, this brings a new set of challenges for any business needing to hire new workers.

It means that the pool of readily-available recruits is small, with skills shortages leaving small and medium-sized businesses facing the prospect of having to pay more to secure the right people.

In such conditions, employers may also have to re-examine the matches between the job roles they are looking to fill and the candidates available, meaning that they may have to take on an employee who does not fulfil all their criteria. As a result, this might also lead to them having to examine the training they offer, as a result of bringing in new people who might not have the optimal amount of directly relevant experience.


David Vs Goliath

The big question for many smaller firms in need of staff as they hope to grow is whether they will be able to compete effectively with better-known, often multi-national concerns for the best people available.

Those smaller companies can expect to have to fight hard to attract and retain their best staff, especially when bigger firms can offer established, attractive packages of fringe benefits, such as pension schemes and flexible working policies designed to suit those juggling their career with family responsibilities.


The Advantages Of A Small Business

This is where the advantages of using a specialist recruitment agency dedicated to finding staff in particular business and industry sectors can come into their own.

These companies survive by virtue of their deep knowledge of the business sectors in which they specialise, and their ability to network effectively and discreetly with employers and candidates working in these fields. They would much rather retain a smaller base of both, and focus really closely on understanding and meeting their needs, than set out to corner the market, and have a wide spectrum of clients to try to keep happy.

Also, as a smaller business itself, such a company will have an instinctive understanding of and connection with other SMEs in their chosen sectors. It will know the challenges facing anyone running a small firm, and this will mean it can find candidates who have the right mentality to fit in, and who appreciate the particular challenges of working in such a setting.

That’s where we at Perpetual Recruitment come in. Our motto: “We don’t just understand your business, we live your business” is backed up by an organisation which is set up to service the respective sectors it works with to the highest standards.

We have dedicated recruitment specialists for the oil and gas, surveying and architecture, engineering, manufacturing, and executive recruitment fields. This means we have a team which truly understands what you do, and the current climate and particular challenges your business faces.

Big isn’t necessarily beautiful when you’re looking for a partner to help you meet the challenges of building the ideal team for your business. In fact, if you want to build a loyal and happy workforce from the bottom up, you should look at linking up with a like-minded agency which can spare the time to really get to know your business.

That way, you can put yourself in the happy position of being able to compete effectively in a crowded market, and choose from a field of candidates who are on your wavelength. So search out a specialist recruitment company, and the road to expanding your business can be made much smoother.

Garry Rogerson
How Engineering firms can get the most from the contractor market

Drawing from a flexible pool of employees

on short-term contracts can help engineering firms iron out the highs and lows of a lumpy business cycle. But the value of using contractors isn’t all about plugging gaps in capacity, explains Garry Rogerson.

Skills injection
Contractors form an essential strategic function for many engineering firms; allowing them to introduce different skills into their business at different stages in their growth or in the evolution of a project. Supplementing their team with specialist design engineers at the start of a project or experienced fitters in the build phase can be a highly effective strategy.

The right contractor will hit the ground running, realise a project quickly, bring new ideas or lead a team with credibility. This can be an extremely successful way to establish a new project or division until that area of the business is developed enough to support a permanent employee.

Widening the recruitment window
With over 70 per cent of company overheads made up of personnel costs, recruiting the wrong people can be a costly mistake. Fast-growing companies are particularly at risk when a permanent position needs filling quickly and they are forced to select staff from a narrow pool of available candidates. Hiring a contractor can take away the pressure of making permanent appointments too quickly and give businesses more time to make good recruitment decisions based on a wider selection of well-matched candidates, as well as helping to define exactly what is needed from permanent recruits to meet longer-term aims.

Managing risk
The contractor market offers a valuable resource for engineering firms that are growing quickly in terms of winning new contracts but don’t yet have enough guaranteed income to support permanent staff. A contractor can bring intensive support exactly when and where it is needed and subsequently step out of the business when they are no longer required, so that they are never an unnecessary financial burden.

Contractors typically cost up to a third more in wage costs than permanent staff at the same level, and this discourages some businesses from using them. But the contractor model involves little or no waste if the contractor enters the business to perform a specific role and leaves as that role is completed. The right candidate will already be experienced in relevant software or operating systems and require little or no training – therefore costing the business less in training and taking less time to settle into their role.

As global manufacturing output gathers pace and new opportunities emerge, the risk of growing too quickly also becomes a significant threat. If a business employs too many permanent staff on its payroll in a short space of time and before guaranteed income is secure, it can find itself in a position where its committed overhead base – which is mostly made up of employment costs – starts to outweigh cash flow. This position is unsustainable and can lead to a boom and bust scenario; typically ending in redundancies.

A flexible resource
The contractor model can be a useful tool for companies that want to increase staff numbers without jeopardising their financial stability. (don’t contractor costs fall onto the committed overhead base, or is this about the ability to release contractors if money becomes tight?) Employing a mix of permanent and contractor staff allows a business to increase and reduce labour without creating uncertainty within its permanent workforce. In a workforce of 100 staff made up of 80 permanent posts and 20 contractor roles, contractor numbers can be increased as new projects come on board, and reduced as workload intensity falls or income becomes secure. In this way, permanent employees never have to be laid off.

The value of hiring a contractor lies in the ability to inject the right blend of skills into a business, precisely where they are needed and only for as long as they bring value. For engineering businesses riding a growth curve or exploring new opportunities, the right contractor can not only provide targeted expertise and fresh inspiration, but also breathing space to make good longer-term decisions.

Female engineer
There’s A Lack Of Female Engineers

Engineering The Future: Exploring The Lack Of Women In The Industry

Great engineers have never been in such short supply. Here in the UK, projected figures suggest that, as a nation, we’ll need to recruit 2 million new engineers during the next decade.

Nobody can contest the demand for high quality professionals to enter into the industry, however the issue of recruitment remains one of the largest threats to great British engineering. This problem is further exacerbated by the extreme lack of females entering into the sector.

Statistics show that 94% of the engineering workforce are male. As an industry, it’s crucial that we address this balance. Not only in order to meet the demand for jobs, but also to remain able to provide the very best solutions for clients. Both sexes bring different capabilities and vision to the table. By balancing the workforce we position ourselves to successfully solve the problems of the future and cater successfully to client requirements.

To counter the problem, we must first understand its multifaceted nature. Is it that women are reluctant to join the engineering world? Or could the problem be that a notoriously male dominated industry is intimidating for female recruits?


Education Matters

We have to consider the fact that, as a country, we perhaps deskill our female engineers from childhood. How many of our young girls are given toys such as Lego, Mechano, cars and building materials to play with? Compare this to the toy box of a boy. Boys are given what society regards as male toys.Female Engineers Working On Plane

These toys are known to help develop spatial intelligence and problem solving capabilities, therefore, the types of skills required to become an excellent future engineer. Meanwhile, our girls, their future chances already being affected by their gender, are developing their nurturing and social skills by traditionally playing with dolls and skipping ropes.

This message is, sadly, reinforced throughout educational establishments. Girls, having been deskilled during their early education, excel in the arts and humanities subjects at secondary level. They outshine the boys academically in both science and maths, mature more quickly and are much more likely to follow the rules.

Meanwhile, the boys are building strong social networks through sporting endeavours and their often boisterous, explorative behaviour is attributed to “boys being boys” whereas this behaviour would result in reprimand for their female counterparts. All the while the boys are developing those vital, on the job skills that great engineers require, whilst the girls are busy getting the grades on paper.

Could it be that their academic success is resulting in girls being recommended to take the more traditional, academically accepted, employment routes? Is a career advisor likely to suggest engineering to female students? As a nation, we must address the imbalances within our education system to truly level the playing field for both sexes in the future.

Furthermore, the profile of engineering must first be raised within our educational establishments and its dirty, manly facade, must but be eroded as inaccurate. Careers advisors and young people themselves, should be armed with the facts about the diverse and exciting nature of working within the sector.


Gearing Towards The Future

We must aim to recruit across a representative cross-section of society in order that we remain current and able to problem solve effectively; focussing on providing world leading solutions. Once recruited, we need to ensure that there are successful, supportive female mentors and role models, working in industry, to support the new wave of female engineers.

To that point, our parent company Cygnet Group has been taking the lead in the push for new female apprentices in the Engineering industry. Just recently, Cygnet Texkimp took on two new apprentice females, as apart of their excellent Apprenticeship Academy. We wish them all the best in their roles and offer our support to fruitful, thriving career in the sector.

By remaining in the male dominated past and continuing to alienate 50% of available recruits, the UK engineering sector risks its future. Engineering companies must launch a PR offensive in the coming years, in order to ensure that, when considering their future career options, engineering is an attractive option for young people with the appropriate skills, regardless of gender.

perpetual cars
Perpetual Partnerships Corporate Event 2015 – Pageant of Power, Cholmondeley Castle
Described as ‘the UK’s most dynamic motorsport event’ the Pageant of Power at Cholmondeley Castle was an obvious choice to host a number of our self-described ‘petrol-head’ clients and it certainly lived up to expectations.

Set in the stunning surrounds of the castle grounds adjacent to Deer Park Mere the hospitality tent was perfectly placed by the start line with easy access to view both the water and road activities. The entertainment included drag, rally, F1, super and classic car racing as well as world class trial and side-car motorcycles on the road. The water boasted wake boarding, jet-ski displays and rib rides. These provided great viewing as well as listening (apart from the electric versions) and truly represented the Pageant’s slogan of ‘celebrating power in all its forms’.

A variety of different clients joined us across the different business sectors of surveying, manufacturing, engineering and oil and gas. They took full part in soaking up the hospitality and entertainment available. They also enjoyed some of the wider stalls and experiences including electric motorbikes, model car racing and Landrover experience although none dared to take on the heights of a helicopter ride! As well as our guests Rob and John tried out their skills on two wheels with the electric bikes although it was a true case of tortoise versus the hare with no happy ending for the tortoise! We also enjoyed outstanding refreshments, especially the customary Pimm’s and afternoon tea. Above all whilst the hospitality was excellent, the company was even better and represented the perfect ‘thank you’ to all our recruitment partners. We look forward to doing it again soon.

Supercars F1

Electric Bikes Trail Bike

IET dinner
IET Dinner

On Friday 6th February, I was invited to the Institution of Engineering and Technology annual dinner at the Hilton Hotel in Liverpool. It was described as ‘the premier networking event in the engineering and technology calendar, attended by 1000 engineers and industry leaders from over 67 of the most prominent international companies and organisations’. This diversity of industries was displayed on our table which included senior people from pharmaceutical, energy, automation, clothing, medical and composites sectors. As an outsider in a variety of early engineering conversations and introductions it struck me that the outlook for Northwest and UK engineering is as strong as ever. Key subject matters surrounded capital investment, the need for space and a subject close to my heart, recruitment. It seemed that most businesses were forging ahead with plans to invest and bring in top quality people which is a great sign for the upcoming years. Clearly these were not the only conversation topics as good food and drink was also on the menu!

The lead speaker was Juergen Maier, Chief Executive of Siemens whose speech was based around the Northwest being a historic heartland for engineering excellence which reminded me of Cygnets mission statement. He asked everyone to envisage a time of a century ago when it would be likely that everyone would be in a similar place, wearing similar (black tie) attire discussing pioneering engineering concepts and products. His passion and optimism for the future of UK engineering was clear and similarly to Perpetual’s philosophy he believed more strength would be created through partnerships and collaborations between companies with similar values and vision. It was a real pleasure to meet a great group of people with the same passion for the UK engineering future as we have at Cygnet and this could not have been phrased better than Neil Armstrong’s quote from a 2000 conference where he said ‘science is about what is; engineering is about what CAN BE’. After this night I truly believe UK engineering is alive and well!

The IET Annual Dinner event at Liverpool Hilton Hotel.

queens award
Queens Award Cygnet Group
We are delighted to announce that our parent company, the Cygnet Group is one of winners of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2014.

Matthew Kimpton-Smith commented “It’s a tremendous achievement to receive such a high level of recognition for the hard work we have done globally”.
“From senior managers to shop floor workers and our installation teams who represent us throughout the world, this award recognises the efforts of every member of our team.”

Cygnet Group has won the Queen’s Award for International Trade for our outstanding overseas sales growth over the last three years, during which we have seen overseas earnings growth of 255% and the number of employees almost double to 97.

We have been recognised for our clear export strategy which makes up 85% of our total turnover. In the last three years we have opened new offices in China and the USA, as well as entering a number of other new markets – Africa, Scandinavia and Northern Canada.

finding people
Paying for Candidate Quality

This month’s REC report

hits home with the struggles facing the UK recruitment market as permanent and temporary staff availability tumbles as the demand rises sharply. This is despite a 17 year high in average starting salaries. A recent KPMG report highlights a ‘vacancy vacuum’ as demand for staff outstrips supply by a considerable margin. Engineering topped both the temporary and permanent staff demand tables, both showing increases in June of nearly 50% compared to the previous month and also over double the same figures tabled last year. Despite this permanent staff vacancy placements have now increased for 21 months in a row and temporary placements for 14 months whilst the availability of staff in both permanent and contract staffing contracted to levels not seen since 1997.

This increase in staff demand and falling of labour levels is forcing employers to attempt to bridge the gap through offering salaries at a 17 year high. The belief that by offering higher salaries alone will result in the labour market voting with their feet is still to be proven as there may be the belief that the levels of salary growth are unsustainable and are still remaining loyal to the businesses which have seen them through tougher times. These labour shortages are specifically highlighted in our very own engineering market as top level technical skills are at a premium and businesses look to offer quality products over cheaper alternatives. Paying a premium for quality will continue in our market but businesses will continue to need to think outside the box to attract and retain the very best individuals through a combination of benefits and career paths which will stand out in the crowd. We will continue to keep our eyes focused on a market which continues to challenge all its combatants.

We have a unique and intricate understanding of the technical recruitment market. We are focused on quality of service rather than on sales and KPI’s.


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