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Manufacturing Sector - Job Market Update

by Dale Young

Manufacturing update

The start of 2012 has been an interesting time for the manufacturing and operations job market throughout Australia.

With recent announcements at Reckitt Benckiser and Alcoa, the challenges of the current climate in manufacturing are evident. The strength of the dollar, the rising cost of raw materials, and the price war between Coles and Woolworths means manufacturing in Australia is certainly facing an ongoing battle.

However, the $86 billion food and beverage market seems to be showing strong signs of growth. A recent article in the Financial Review told the story of Patties Foods, where despite being a notoriously low margin business, they have managed to maintain profit margins. In the article, the CEO Greg Bourke, put their success down to two key aspects of operations:

  1. The implementation of regular analysis of production data to identify areas of improvement
  2. Heightened employee engagement so all employees work together to drive improvement.

It appears these measures are increasingly important during challenging times.

The flow-on effect of organisations having a heavy focus on continuous improvement, is the requirement to employ staff with qualifications in lean and six sigma. As a result, we have seen an increase in demand for blue-chip production managers and process / project engineers, particularly those with CI experience.

With the search for talent being as difficult as ever, it is a critical time for businesses to differentiate themselves from their closest competitors. Those organisations with a strong EVP and a commitment to empowering and developing employees are likely to attract job seekers in this current climate.