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28 May 2024
By Mark Rudge
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The changing face of manufacturing in Wales

The changing face of manufacturing in Wales

‘The changing face of manufacturing in Wales - Why success today is about so much more than simply finding the right skills’.
 
It’s well known that to be successful in running a business today relies on more than simply employing the staff with the right skills for the job - it’s about proving your worth in supporting the emotional wellbeing of your employees and communities, about promoting sustainable practices in all areas, and more. 

As one of its most synonymous and traditionally labour-intensive industries in Wales, it’s also fair to say our manufacturing sector has been working overtime in recent years to meet these standards. And, whilst the recruitment and retention of skills is still important, the concept of facilities management is now also key to the preservation of Wales’ industrial heritage, as an emerging sector in its own right. 

Mark Rudge, Commercial Partnership Director at Acorn by Synergie, has witnessed this change more closely than most, having spent the last 25 years working at the heart of Wales’ industrial transformation on behalf of the UK recruiter, and takes a look at where we’ve come from, how it’s going - and what comes next.

Manufacturing in Wales is a tradition like any other 

To properly appreciate what the future of the manufacturing sector in Wales looks like, we first need to consider where most large-scale producers operating here today have come from. 

In the 25 years I’ve spent recruiting within the industry regionally and nationally too, we’ve gone from placing hundreds of workers a day with the likes of Panasonic and Sony, to managing multiple sites for a wide range of large-scale clients delivering true managed services including Industrial Cleaning, Packaging, Grounds Maintenance solutions and more. 

When I first started with Acorn, candidates would routinely queue outside our high street branches waiting to be placed into work that same day and our role was more straightforward than it is now. The world of work has changed, and as 360-degree recruitment consultants we take care of everything from interview and job bookings, payroll, HR and all the other functions that any employer would expect to provide to their full-time employees. 

Transformation continues to be led by the consumer

The focus for employers in Wales and the UK has changed considerably since, however, not least for those offering manufacturing and industrial services. Consumers today want to know where the product they are buying has come from, who it’s been produced by, and whether or not the process of creating it has been achieved in a fair and sustainable way - and rightly so.

What this means for those involved within that supply chain is a need to be transparent in meeting sustainability and other industry regulations, in supporting the wellbeing of employees involved in creating those products, and in proving consistency with regards to ESG and other activity in order to attract the right kind of custom along the way. 


Since the mid 2000s the role of Acorn by Synergie, for example, has diversified as a result to include managing multiple sites for large scale manufacturers and other businesses delivering contracts for Health and Safety Management (RA / JMS, Permits, Annual Plans), Chemicals, Consumables, Vehicles, Machines, Training, Innovation, the HR Management of 250+ employees, Union Relationships and more, supporting each company each with their unique  ESG targets and requirements aligning with our own.


Managing the way manufacturers in Wales do business today is key to their future

As manufacturers UK-wide continue to operate within an increasingly global marketplace, so the need to further integrate industrial organisations based regionally within their surrounding communities becomes ever more crucial. 

Achieved through a heightened focus on ESG activity, and on continual improvements around sustainable practices and in supporting the overall wellbeing of employees too this is why, for manufacturers based in Wales today, Facilities Management now holds the key to the future for so many.