The pandemic has caused dramatic increase in home based working being offered in new contracts & 5 Fold increase in demand for Packaging Technologists & Production Operators (especially Flexo Printers) partly driven by Cop26 & Brexit?

Harrison Scott has seen a dramatic rise in Packaging vacancies over the past 2 months.  Many clients had waited to see what happened with the economy earlier in the year before committing to an increase in headcount.

This in turn has led to pent up demand for packaging staff, akin to what happened in the property market where, as people were less able to visit properties without fear, a “buying frenzy” resulted, when restrictions were lifted causing a reduction in supply that was nowhere near able to satisfy the pent up demand from the “resulting queue” of those who wanted to move, which had built up during lockdown.

As house prices rose, so have basic salaries in packaging but more noticeably there is a new trend.  Companies are “wooing” target candidates with the offer of (partial) home working.  It would seem the myth that, if an employee is not in the office under the visual supervision of their manager, then they will less productive, has been completely shattered by lockdown.  In fact, due to trust & flexibility home working offers, many managers have seen an increase in productivity.

Employees are making/receiving calls later and earlier than their contractual hours as they are not stuck in a car commuting and they are happier at their work.  Branson’s Virgin, made this realisation before many competitors and it is often said that when he offered the chance for his employees to choose their own holiday entitlement that holiday usage decreased!

Clearly, there are some roles where this is not applicable – for example Production Operator roles.  However, we have seen a very large, once in a decade, increase in the demand for Packaging Technologists & Packaging Development professionals, probably fuelled by all the “noise” about climate change, the environment, packaging waste and imminent Cop26 conference.

Here, we have seen home-working 2-3 days per week as almost common place.  This has allowed candidates from further afield to be considered as suitable applicants in the face of a limited supply of quality candidates.  We have seen a parallel increase in demand for production operators, production controllers and structural designers, possibly caused by Brexit as many of these valued employees have returned to their countries of origin.

Clearly some of these roles require a physical presence in the factory and so here, the “wooing” needs to be financially based and this is what is happening. Many packaging companies were at full capacity during the pandemic and particularly those, in our experience, which were connected to the E-Commerce market.  These firms snapped up any of the best operators who lost their roles, working for companies who had the opposite experience during the pandemic.

As ever strong sales professionals are in demand (particularly in corrugated and printed flexibles) and anyone connected with 3D Point of Sale will have a wide range of opportunities to explore.

Hopefully the pandemic will be over at some point in the not too distant future but signs are that (partial) home working may well be here to stay.  The demand for Packaging Technologists and good production operators across all the packaging formats shows no sign of slowing down either.  Companies are going to have to be more creative than in the past when it comes to the offers they make to candidates, while demand outstrips supply.

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