Recol successfully navigate recruitment challenges

Recol successfully navigate recruitment challenges

Recol Ltd

Many would agree that in business, overcoming challenges is crucial for sustained success. Made in the Midlands member Recol is a European leader in sheet metal fabrication and precision engineering. Established for over 50 years, the company has worked hard to become an industry leader and ‘employer of choice’. As an employer who has always paid staff above the national minimum wage, how is Recol dealing with economical situations such as ongoing inflation challenges, minimum wage increase and recruitment concerns.

Based in Northampton, Recol are the forefront of high quality lean manufacturing specialising in fabrication, precision machined components and mechanical assemblies. The company has always prided itself on a program of reinvestment - precuring the latest technology developments within industry. Whilst investments have helped the company build a ‘strong and diverse’ customer base in the UK and Europe, their philosophy is also helping them to retain a ‘loyal, long serving and highly skilled workforce’. 

Whilst retaining a multi-generational workforce poses its own set of challenges, with varied expectations across age groups, Recol addresses this by ensuring competitive pay, fostering a positive workplace and promoting social events - Despite external competition, which offer high wages for relatively low-skill jobs.

David Littlewood, Sales and Marketing Director at Recol, said: “We prioritise internal communication and engagement at Recol through team boards and incentives, ensuring that all employees feel valued and motivated.” However, other challenges, out of the control of business leaders, may also impact workforce retention. Made in Group’s survey taken by numerous directors in manufacturing: ‘the BIG people and skills report 2023’ suggests that international challenges have impacted retention and recruitment, which is more difficult post pandemic, 38% and 59% respectively. 

Recol is tackling retention and recruitment challenges by incorporating advanced technologies like fibre laser welding robots as well as automated mills and lathes. By doing so, the company is improving efficiency and dependency on a highly skilled manual labour.  Noel Lovatt, Director at Recol said: “Training for these technologies is streamlined and more accessible to the younger workforce, who are generally more adept with digital tools. This shift towards automation not only aids in operational efficiency but also makes Recol a more attractive workplace for tech-savvy young professionals”. This reflects the ‘people and skills 2023’ survey by Made in Group, which forecasts the following 12 months, suggesting 78% of manufacturing leaders see digital skills as a greater priority compared to historically. 

(Image: One of Recol's latest investments - FLW 4000 M3 Fiber Laser Welder) 

(Image: Matsuura MAM72-35V)

As a sizable company with a strong presence in the sector, the firm rarely outsources its challenges and relies mainly on internal strategies and resources to address issues. With a proactive approach to attract and retain talent, their robust apprenticeship program is specifically designed to drive individuals passionate about engineering. David continued: “We look for people who are genuinely interested in the industry, therefore with a focus on quality over quantity we can ensure Recol builds a dedicated and skilled workforce.” 

Whilst technology and a positive work environment attracts and retains talented people, sustainability is also a growing concern for many businesses. Recol has switched to electric company cars and vans, and their latest investments in machinery focus on energy efficiency. For instance, transitioning from an older CO2 laser to more energy-efficient fibre lasers has substantially reduced their power consumption. 

Reflecting on the broader manufacturing landscape in the UK, Recol expresses optimism. David said: “The trend of onshoring, driven by a combination of economic and environmental factors, presents significant opportunities”. Recol is currently in the process of securing contracts that were previously outsourced to countries like the Czech Republic. This shift is not only more cost-effective due to reduced transport costs but also aligns with the clients' net-zero commitments. This seems to be a common occurrence amongst manufacturers with another Made in the Midlands member Interplas recently announcing their achievements with reshoring work from Nissan Japan. 

Similarly to many businesses, Recol’s approach to overcoming business challenges is multifaceted, involving strategic investments in technology, a strong focus on workforce management, and a commitment to sustainability. Their proactive stance on these issues, coupled with a keen understanding of the evolving manufacturing landscape, positions them well for future growth and success. 

Find out more about Recol here. 

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