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UK Ports Directory Article

The ports industry has a major problem looming and it’s not the recession.

Ashleigh Wright, Westray Recruitment Group

At present time there is historically low unemployment and candidates are reconsidering life choices and being more selective over where and how they spend their time and which brands or companies they work for.

Go back 20 years and it was an employer led market where employers could advertise, have 100 applicants and pick the best 10. Now the times have changed and employers are advertising the same job, having only 5-10 people apply, some of which are of dubious standard, but expecting higher wages and staff benefits.

As an industry this is an important problem to solve as for the growth in the ports sector and its supply chain. We need to find people who will come to work every day and want to be involved in the exciting and thriving sector – vs stiff competition from every other sector who wants to poach the same talent pool.

In the North of England one of the areas of success that Westray Recruitment Group have found is through strategically targeting people who might not be as actively engaged in the ports sector and advertising to a wider net using social channels and communicating to our audience in a way to both sell the dream of the opportunity in the sector, in addition to the job itself.

Doing this is a change of tack vs ways of recruiting in the past using modern marketing techniques to drive social engagement has been extremely successful for us in placing people into clients across a range of sectors.

When times are tough and there are fewer candidates around, recruiters need to get smarter and project developers and business owners in the ports sector need to embrace new ways of working as part of their people strategy.

Your people strategy needs to be a key part of your development pipeline for your investments, to the same importance as planning or raising finance. It is no point raising £30m for a new factory if you are unable to find the people to work in it.

The flip side of this argument is also the recession. Whilst the recession could hit at any moment, this could bring opportunity for your people strategy. If there is a resulting rise in unemployment this could increase the candidate pool available, which for a long term investment (such as in ports infrastructure) has a 30 year life cycle, a few years of slowed growth should not derail your project.

Taking all of this into account it will be smart and nimble teams who together deliver successful projects.

Many port developers and their supply chains are experts at what they do, but have their focus on project delivery and not the operational phase of the same project – which often falls to a different team. It is here that we believe a smart recruiter can help in plugging this gap and adding value to ports-based businesses to support their growth aspirations.

Nobody knows what the next 12-24 months might bring, but for whatever happens you want the best people on your side working together towards a common goal, which is the successful delivery of global-scale ports projects and long term prosperity and economic growth for many years to come.

Ashleigh Wright is Commercial Director of Westray Recruitment Group, headquartered in the North East of England but operating nationwide.

Get in touch with Ashleigh on 0191 492 6622 or at AWright@westray.co.uk or find out more at https://www.westrayrecruitment.co.uk/

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