INTERNATIONAL RECRUITMENT & HUMAN RESOURCE CONSULTANTS TO INDUSTRY SINCE 1975
Within the historical context of manufacturing since the Industrial Revolution, the plastics sector occupies a relatively recent time frame of the past seventy or so years. However, its positive impact on our everyday lives is quite unlike any other material. The contribution to society from the plastics industry is set to continue for many years in the future, with huge advances particularly in medical, automotive and aerospace applications.
However, despite this success – or even because of it – plastics science and engineering as taught in schools and in higher education – has yet to fully punch its weight as compared to the older disciplines of civil and mechanical engineering, metallurgy and so forth.
Over the last decade, we have seen a decline in the number of universities offering pure polymer qualifications. A successful career in plastics therefore involves seeking out those centres of established excellence in higher learning that offer plastics-specific learning. Industry organizations such as the PTA (Polymer Training Association) still play an important part in educating the plastics workforce. A key challenge for industry is to ensure that polymer options remains at the forefront of more general qualifications such as Chemistry and Materials Science.
When considered in the context of cutting edge technology – SMART materials, biosciences – plastics and polymer-based sciences dominate the field. Despite the fact that the world of higher education is still catching up with the industry, high technology polymeric materials continue to play a essential role in some of the more innovative advances in science.
The plastics industry, in truth, is a collection of niche interests and sectors – ranging from the production of food packaging and single-use goods right up to the specialist materials applications such as the engineering polymers that find their way into NASA’s space programme.
There are a myriad ways to manufacture plastics materials – the raw polymers – and even more ways in which to process these polymers into products. The leading markets for plastic products include packaging, automotive, building, and medical/healthcare. The main manufacturing processes include injection moulding, thermoforming, film blowing, blow moulding and others.
A broad knowledge of all processes and polymers is of help when starting a career. It is perhaps wise not to become a specialist too early on – but to have a focus on adding new expertise and experiences – of processes, materials and markets – to a developing career.
The best run plastics-based companies are also likely to be the best organised manufacturing enterprises – with systems and innovation to match. A successful manufacturing career in plastics is likely to include a more than basic competence and enthusiasm for modern manufacturing methods such as JIT, continuous improvement, six sigma, and others. Even those involved in design or in research and development will need at least basic literacy in these methods if their creations are to see the light of day.
The Impact of Globalisation
Plastics is a global industry and globalisation has changed the manufacturing landscape in the UK, particularly in the way organizations are equipping themselves for the future. For those working in the industry the presence of international elements in any plastics-based business is a good one – whether manufacturing operations abroad; joint ventures or the commissioning of tooling and equipment. Plastics engineers should expect their work to take them across international boundaries and cultures.
The drive for more technology and added value products has demanded that industry upskill its people resources with skills needed in change management, business development and technical R&D in particularly.
The best companies are moving toward a more strategic approach in people management; needing to develop expert know-how in nurturing, retaining and developing their people – and this clearly makes practical and economic sense.
Cheap No More
Worldwide, the industry has moved to provide increasing added value for its customers. There are fewer and fewer so-called commodity products and technologies.
Those companies and countries that manage to create a lead in technology and innovation are likely to win more markets and those people that can help them to do so will fare very well.
The competition on price alone in the plastics sector has also decreased significantly. Perception-wise, and economics-wise the industry tends to belong to other industries in the mind of would-be candidates and consumers – i.e. plastics is significant part of the automotive, medical, packaging, construction markets and many others.
Following the markets
The plastics industry’s fortunes follow the key markets outlined above – with the associated peaks and troughs, threats and opportunities. In either boom or bust, the recruitment, outplacement and training functions flex to match. For example, Listgrove is currently busy equipping many management teams with the teamwork skill sets necessary to compete better and make more of their existing people during the period 2008/2009.
In the meantime Listgrove’s pan-national appointment business has increased significantly in the past two years with companies keen to find the best possible people globally – and then deploy them in the most desired locations – whether this is movement within Europe – or from Europe to work in other plants worldwide. Areas of innovation and value-added are faring the best in plastics technology and are likely to continue to do so for time to come.
As well as being regarded as the junior partner in manufacturing, the plastics sector has a more recent prejudice to battle with – namely an unfair and unjustified reputation in relation to the environment. The visibility of plastics often means it is being conveniently a scapegoat for social and environment problems such as litter, landfill and recycling.
Plastics-based technology remains innovative and competitive – even and especially in the new eco-business climate. Developments in recycling and in product compostability are ongoing, offer many opportunities and will actually help to ensure at least ensure a more healthy environmental future.
Plastics have an unbeatable environmental profile for example they help us to save energy and fuel which is why customers such as the automotive, construction on retailers want to use them in increasing quantities.
For in excess of 35 years, Listgrove has supported clients across the globe to source talented individuals for a wide range of opportunities ranging from Senior Executives, Management Staff through to skilled Engineers and Scientists. As a specialist recruitment and HR services provider to the Plastics, Polymer, Packaging, Petrochemical and Chemical sectors, we have the ability to search for candidates using our own extensive database, network of contacts and through direct approach methods.
We provide a range of services including:
- Executive search
- Volume selection
- Interim appointments
- Career transition
- Management coaching
- Competency Frameworks
- Assessment & Development
- Retention & Rewards
- Redundancy & Relocation
By clicking on the vacancies' link above you will gain access to a wide range of career opportunities being recruited by companies across the globe. It is important to note that not all recruitment projects are advertised and therefore you are invited to contact our head office in Stratford Upon Avon in order to speak to one of our consultants, who can advise on suitable posts and the range of services we can provide to candidates.
By visiting www.listgrove.net you will gain access to Listgrove’s new recruitment software and in particular the ability to create your own record on our database. Once completed you will have direct access to your record through a secure username and password, allowing you to search and apply for vacancies and to update your profile