Morson was the first recruitment agency in the UK to implement a managed service model in 1996 – we are pioneers in developing and managing bespoke outsource solutions for our clients. We are experienced in the delivery of all recruitment models, including managed service programme (MSP); master vendor (MV), neutral vendor (NV); neutral vendor plus (NV+). We can also provide consortium models and blended solutions which are bespoke to client requirements.
Attracting a more diverse employee demographic has become a major priority for many organisations, particularly those in traditionally male-dominated sectors such as engineering, nuclear, IT and construction. But the drive to improve gender balance has to go beyond lip service or diversity targets; it must be embedded in a company’s employment culture. The starting point for a more diverse workforce is recruitment practices designed to select candidates on the basis of their individual attributes, talents and suitability for the role. Many companies may already believe they are fulfilling those criteria but entrenched gender stereotypes often result in subtle gender bias in job ads, job descriptions and person specifications. Research carried out by Totaljobs.com, involving a review of 76,000 ads over a six week period, found that job ads have an average of six gender-coded words; references which a study by the University of Waterloo in Canada and Duke University in the USA has identified as associated with gender stereotypes. What this means in practice is that many organisations – sometimes unintentionally – are weighting the language they use towards attracting either male or female applicants. And, according to the Totaljobs.com research, the issue not only involves a gender-stereotyped split between different sectors but also accelerates with seniority, with ads for roles with titles such as ‘director’, ‘partner’, ‘chief’ or ‘head’ often featuring substantially more male-biased language. So how can employers achieve genuine culture change within their organisations to ensure their recruitment reflects their diversity goals? The first step is to understand the subtle ways in which gender-stereotyping can impact on your recruitment, even if it’s subconscious. When it comes to job ads, there is now a specialist software tool available that has been developed to improve gender balance within ads. An augmented writing platform for job posts, Textio, analyses the hiring outcomes of more than 10 million jobs posts per month and has been proven to improve gender diversity in recruitment. The next is to be truly committed. We’ve already signed the ‘Inclusive Culture Pledge’ developed by diversity consultancy, EW Group, to help companies of all kinds to focus on areas of their business that will help them create a stronger working environment where diversity and inclusivity are prioritised and empowered. The move is designed to help us continue to implement the positive continuous change needed to achieve our goal of doubling the number of female contractors we hire by 2020. We’re not just enthusiastic about the positive difference we can make to workplace diversity within our own organisation; we’re driven by it. On 10th April we hosted a seminar with University of Salford at MediaCityUK entitled ‘Championing gender diversity and equality in the tech industry’. The free event took the form of a roundtable debate about diversity and equality in the technology sector and how organisations can collaborate to overcome challenges and capitalise on fresh opportunities. Gender diversity in the workplace has come a long way since the era of the typing pool and the all-male boardroom but there’s still a long way to go. At Morson, we’re clearly focused on making that positive change happen, for our own business and our clients.Find out more
To encourage more people into engineering careers we must first engineer a new narrative for the sector. This was the headline theme during our recent ‘Year of Engineering 2018: Inspiring a Generation’ roundtable. Held in partnership with the University of Salford, the debate brought together industry trailblazers, education providers and government agencies, including the National Apprenticeship Service. Keynote presentations from Dr Maria Stukoff, director of the Morson Maker Space at the University of Salford and Syd Carson, business development director at Morson Projects, provided insights into the current state of engineering and sparked debate into how organisations can collaborate to overcome the growing skills gap. Current forecasts from EngineeringUK suggest that we need an additional 186,000 engineers every year in the UK until 2024 to meet growing demand. Attendees were unanimous that the narrative and culture of engineering, which is currently one that is masculine and physically demanding, is holding the sector back from attracting the right calibre of skills and a more diverse workforce. Attracting the next generation of engineers depends largely on the strength of our outreach activities. The language and imagery used to showcase engineering should profile its many positives, including creativity, financial and the rewarding, lifelong careers on offer. Without this, the industry will continue to fail to attract and retain talented people who do not conform to its traditional stereotypes. “Rather than saying ‘Do you want to work in nuclear?’ we should be saying to young people ‘Do you want to work with robots and change the future?’. This resonates far more with young minds who are already very socially aware and have access to so much information at their fingertips.” Dr Maria Stukoff, director of the Morson Maker Space at the University of Salford Improving education outcomes Attendees agreed that a lack of confidence and technical subject knowledge amongst primary school teachers is having a major impact on engineering and STEM learning. Government targets and tables also mean that teachers are often more focussed on generic professional development in order to achieve positive Ofsted grades, rather than delivering fast-advancing subjects. “We need to train teachers in more specialist subjects. This strategy of upskilling must come from central Government and be developed in line with UK industry to understand what skills are most lacking.” Syd Carson, business development director at Morson Projects The quality of teaching is an important driver of educational outcomes in engineering as well as the level of interest in the subject. Primary school teachers should be encouraged to enhance their understanding of engineering theory and application, whilst delivering meaningful engagement into the subject through the day-to-day curriculum. Teaching must align engineering concepts with real-world applications, as it is this social aspect of how the sector can improve and save lives that is highly attractive. “We understand that there isn’t enough time in the day to teach everything but engineering crosses so many subjects, from the history of a product or programme through to developing good communication, written and analytical skills.” Dr Maria Stukoff, director of the Morson Maker Space at the University of Salford Everyone attending offered present-day examples to showcase the enthusiasm for STEM subjects across all genders at primary school age, yet there were concerns that these perceptions often change once young people reach high school, especially amongst girls. There is a clear disengagement from leaving primary school to when pupils choose their GSCE options. Career aspirations aren’t driven throughout the early years of high school, often due to a lack of funding and limited careers guidance, yet this is when students are most influenced by their parents, teachers and peers. Parents were cited as the biggest blocker in the number of young people that choose non-traditional academic routes, due to dated perceptions of engineering and apprenticeships in general. If we are to make ‘apprenticeships the norm’ then we must showcase the benefits and opportunities that they provide, such as no student debt, hands-on experience and being paid to earn while you learn. Parents often encourage their children to go to university because of the perceived prestige that it brings and it’s this same prestige that we must instil into vocational training pathways. “Engineering is a catalyst for addressing social mobility issues for future generations. The apprenticeship route is so strong in engineering and anyone can become an apprentice regardless of your background, location and parents’ income.” Sam Price, head of client engagement at Morson International The Levy will act as a further catalyst in bringing high-quality apprenticeships, right through to degree level, into the workplace. Degree apprenticeships, in particular, give many skilled workers the chance to rewind the clock and return to university later in life, especially for those who may not have had the opportunity previously. Engineering diversity Gender parity in engineering was another key theme and it was unanimously agreed that the focus should not be on achieving quotas, but instead recognising that organisations need diverse perspectives to advance and solve problems. Engineering is an industry that’s 91% male and 94% white. Fifty-five percent of the UK’s current population is female, yet just nine percent of its engineering workforce is women, meaning organisations are missing out on a huge pool of talent. UK engineering also continues to lag behind our international peers, with Europe’s workforce comprising around 20% females, the Middle East 50% and the Far East as high as 65%. “Today’s most sought after workers in engineering are blue collar, which traditionally attract white British males. We need greater diversity across all levels of engineering, from grass roots right through to professional level. There are so many Level 1 and Level 2 roles that will change people’s lives and the face of engineering, which just aren’t profiled enough.” Matthew Leavis, executive manager, head of UK Training at Morson Vital Training A landmark campaign The roundtable event mirrored the aspirations of the Year of Engineering 2018. But despite the Government-backed campaign aiming to increase awareness and understanding of engineering, specifically to young people aged 7-16, opinion around the table was that little was being done by ministers to mobilise engagement. In a sector that’s known for being insular, there were concerns that the Year of Engineering 2018 campaign will have little impact on the nation and more should be done between now and December 2018 in terms of advertising and mandating that sponsors and other key organisations throughout the supply chain partner with academic intuitions to deliver long-term change. “It’s clear that better collaboration is needed to inspire the engineers of tomorrow and boost the numbers entering the profession. Ministers, education providers and organisations must join forces and promote, if that’s what it takes to protect the future of engineering in the UK. “We also need to actively change perceptions and misunderstandings around the sector and highlight the life-long STEM careers that the industry holds for people, whatever their background and wherever they live. As the UK’s number one technical recruiter, we’re committed to inspiring a new generation and are working to become a collective, unified voice for change in engineering.” Ged Mason, CEO, Morson GroupFind out more
This National Apprenticeship Week, many students who are deciding between an apprenticeship or further education may be wondering ‘what is it like to be an apprentice’? We spoke to a selection of our apprentices at Morson Projects, each of whom are doing very different job roles from business and administration to engineering, to get their first hand experiences of an apprenticeship. It was revealing that each apprentices journey was so different, with one apprentice going onto a quantity surveying degree from her business administration apprenticeship. Hannah Worden, Business Administration Apprentice My name is Hannah Worden, I work for the commercial team at Morson Projects. I’ve been on a business administration apprenticeship. In September I also started a quantity surveying degree alongside my apprenticeship which will take me 5 years. I chose to do an apprenticeship as I knew I’d be able to work and earn while training. Morson Projects have supported me all the way, helping me progress within my career. I like the thought of doing learning more about the background of my current job role, which is why I’m doing the QS degree as that is what my role will be transitioning into. The best part of my job is the friendship and social side. I also feel extremely valued and I’ve been recognised higher up as I won Young Achiever of the Year in 2017. I’ve also been nominated by Salford City College for Apprentice of the Year, which is really nice. Lewis Stamper, Engineering Apprentice at Ematics My name is Lewis Stamper, I worked in the power department for the first part of my apprenticeship and then moved over to the Ematics department where I’ve been doing SCADA software engineering. The reason I chose an apprenticeship is that I like learning on the job rather than just looking at a text book, it means that I can apply my knowledge to real life. A standard day for me is, when I come in we have a 9am meeting where we share where we’re up to from the day before and organise what we’re going to do for the rest of the day. I’m involved with team coordination at the moment, making sure that we’re all on task and know what we need to get done for the day. Amy Brett, Business Administration Apprentice I’m Amy Brett and I work for the commercial team where I’ve been doing a Level 2 business admin apprenticeship, I’ll be going onto Level 3 this year. My work is payroll and general admin so on Monday and Tuesday I’m really busy. I help Hannah out with admin assistance and she helps me check through certain work. Lewis sends me his timesheets, which are never on time! I chose to do an apprenticeship with Morson Projects as it’s a family oriented business and I’d heard good things and since I came here I’ve been looked after and been welcomed. Before I came to Morson I used to go to attend Eccles College and they told me about the business. They suggested I went for an apprenticeship at Morson Projects because I didn’t enjoy going to college at the time. Sophie Williams, Hannah and Amy’s manager describes the working relationship between the apprentices: They work really well together, they are all willing to help each other. It’s really nice to see them get along inside and outside of work. Morson are champions of apprenticeships, we believe they are a fantastic way to both get young people into employment and help professionals transition into new careers. Read more about our pledge to maintain a minimum of 5% of our workforce enrolled in apprenticeship schemes across our business. Want to find out what is it like to be an apprentice first hand? To find out more about the apprenticeships Morson offer email our Head of HR firstname.lastname@example.orgFind out more
Written by Ben Fitzgerald, Head of Professional Services and IT: "With 12 years’ experience in Professional Services across finance, HR, IT and marketing. I have provided expert MI and marketplace insight into both perm and interim markets, covering RPO, MSP, PSL and ad-hoc recruitment." The media loves to showcase the gig economy as the enemy of anyone with career aspirations. But if we unpick the headlines and look at employer needs and jobs, do we really see declining career prospects or are we looking at a shift in the way we recruit, work and develop our careers? We’ve always placed candidates in a mix of long-term and short-term positions, so the gig economy is nothing new to us at Morson. The media may be on a mission to highlight the insecurities that come with zero hours contracts and this might be the case for some people who are trying to earn a decent living in unskilled roles. But look beyond the Uber drivers and Deliveroo couriers and what you’ll see is a growing number of ‘gig consultants’. The biggest share of the gig economy actually comes from highly paid, professional and white-collar workers. These estimated 1.1 million gig workers, who include consultants, lawyers, designers and IT professionals, have deliberately chosen this path, with some doing gig work to top them up between full-time jobs. But for most gig freelancers, this way of working is their choice and they have no intention to ever return to full-time employment. Merging together project-specific skills doesn’t just benefit the gig economy, but it relies on it. Flexible workers, together with more agile businesses, brings huge value and complementary skills to a project that may have traditionally struggled to recruit the same level of talent. It’s clear that the demand for professional services is changing and this talented pool of gig freelancers is growing. The gig economy is now part and parcel of our economy, but instead of dragging up the negatives, we should be praising the growing skills-for-the-job culture and a shift to replace the outdated job-for-life model. Contact Ben email@example.com for professional services opportunitiesFind out more
Whilst many people wouldn’t necessarily associate engineering with travel, the world is her oyster for Ana Meek, as a career path in chemical engineering has already enabled her to live and work in five different countries by her early thirties. There are engineering hubs and centres of excellence located around the world and Serbian-born Ana has already worked in Germany, Norway and the UK. Her current role as a chemical process engineer for Morson Projects sees her part of a global team working in partnership to design a new Energy from Waste (EfW) plant in Derby. “I had no idea what I wanted to be growing up in Belgrade, apart from becoming president of course!” explains Ana. “I chose chemical process engineering because there were so many industries and jobs that it could lead me into, such as working in a lab or being a commercial manager or designing plants in different industries. If I didn’t like something then I could just easily switch into another direction, and it was this flexibility that really appealed to me.” Working in engineering has given Ana so many exciting opportunities but globetrotting hasn’t been without its challenges. Ana continues: “I’d moved to Norway with my nine month old baby to start a contract with a new company and the afternoon before I was due to begin, I got a call the client saying that the contract had been put on hold. I was gobsmacked as I’d left a permanent job in Germany and moved to another country for this role. I waited for a while to see if it would start back up again but after a few weeks it wasn’t looking good and I began looking for a new role.” With a strong technical skillset, it wasn’t long before Ana was snapped up by another firm. Initially working in oil & gas in Germany, Ana had moved to Norway to work in the same sector, but the years that followed saw the oil prices crash and the industry go into decline. Ana continues: “No one could have predicted this as oil & gas was such a leading sector. I recognised it was a time to change the sector and moved to renewable energy. Luckily I found the new job and started working on Energy from Waste plants. Unfortunately, the company ceased trading after few years, but Morson Projects, who were our design engineers at the time, needed additional support and offered me the chance to develop my role in the UK.” Fast forward to today and Ana is single-handedly managing multiple global vendors who are working alongside Morson’s design consultancy arm to deliver the new Energy from Waste plant. This complex role involves coordinating the different design packages to make sure everyone is working to the same, evolving specification. A typical day for Ana includes producing engineering documentation and technical specifications, technical bid analysis, liaising with procurement to price up schemes, as well as managing technical issues and finding solutions to ensure everything is aligned and safe. Ana continues: “There’s nothing more satisfying than when you get on site and see the real scale of what you’ve been designing. I’m like a proud parent and the project is my baby. It’s been four years since the initial contract was signed and we’re now just at the commissioning stage and the plant start-up will follow in few months’ time. “This is one of the difficulties in showcasing the appeal of engineering, because a lot of younger people, especially, want to see results straight away. Projects can take years in developing and design and I was actually asked by a primary school pupil why it takes so long when Apple can bring out a new iPhone every year? My answer was that this plant will operate for next 30 years and it is not possible to get the new updated plant next year, which is the case with your iPhone. Projecting a plant is also a much more complicated task as there are more than 40 different packages of equipment involved and a worth of more than £65m – much more expensive than an iPhone. “I also think that the industry needs to be more aligned to creative thinking. I understand the need for tight government regulations around renewables and waste, but there are few opportunities for people to challenge the norms and really innovate within the sector. “Despite this, my advice to anyone who is considering engineering would be to go for it. It was absolutely the best decision I ever made in life and if I could do it all over again, I would choose exactly the same career path.” For more information on Morson's commitment to diversity check out our Diversity Portal. Or to find your next opportunity search jobs.Find out more
Adrian Adair, operations director at Morson International, discusses the importance of working together to attract people into the rail sector. Over the past 7 years Adrian’s passion for innovation and commitment to delivering tailored solutions to employees, candidates and clients alike put him at the forefront of our industry. This article is also featured in July's edition of Recruitment International. Delivering the Government’s growing infrastructure and construction pipeline will contribute to solving a number of national concerns around regional inequalities, productivity and housing shortages, whilst delivering new opportunities in urbanisation, connectivity and sustainability. Rail travel is an essential part of this strategy and HS2 will be the new backbone of Britain’s national rail network. Europe’s largest engineering and construction project will create an estimated 25,000 interim roles, 3,100 permanent positions in operations and maintenance and more than 2,000 new apprenticeships, providing golden opportunities for suppliers and recruiters alike. Developing a sustainable talent pipeline Morson International, together with sister company Vital Rail, has been mapping HS2 from its infancy to understand the complete project lifecycle and skills requirements. Understanding the demands of the project, including the stakeholders’ objectives, targets and challenges, will help Morson to develop a sustainable talent pipeline, using HS2 Ltd’s Skills, Education and Employment (SEE) outputs as a guide for achieving this. To better interpret the SEE outputs and identify how Morson International, Vital Rail and the wider Morson Group can collaborate with its delivery partners, the Group brought together key opinion leaders from HS2 Ltd and the project supply chain to debate the opportunities and challenges, with senior representatives in attendance from BBV, Bechtel, CEK, Mott MacDonald and WSP. Collaborating for better results Collaboration, together with innovation and sustainability, are key principles of HS2’s delivery framework and will determine the effectiveness of the project and its overarching goals. There was real appetite from every organisation around the table to work together to achieve collective change, by preventing duplication of effort and increasing the effectiveness of training, recruitment and diversity programmes; but this collaboration must stretch further than the Tier 1 contractors and their own supply chains. HS2 presents significant opportunity for the recruitment industry, not only to deliver the thousands of niche and volume skillsets required throughout the project lifecycle, but to upskill an entire generation through apprenticeships and skills development opportunities for those already working within the sector. Yet the delivery timescales of the project align with a number of other major projects in the UK, including Hinkley Point C, highways schemes and airport transformations, increasing the demand for talent within what is already a limited talent pool of resources. The Brexit impact Recruiting and retaining the talent required to build the high-speed rail network is also further impacted by the Brexit decision. Britain’s eventual exit from the EU will see the rail industry lose 10 per cent of its workforce, a figure that could be even higher in some areas, particularly in the South East of England where EU nationals make up around 40 per cent of the construction workforce. We’re supporting HS2’s supply chain to work together to overcome the challenges that come with delivering the complexities and sheer scale of the project within the current social and political climate; and these same collaborative principles must be applied to the wider recruitment industry. Recruiters can no longer sit in isolation and instead must work in alliance to provide the entire supply chain with the best talent, especially during peak periods. Collaborative working has an important role to play in helping the industry complete critical infrastructure projects efficiently and cost effectively, and set the benchmark for the delivery of all major projects within the forthcoming pipeline. We’ve built integrated partnerships with a number of recruiters throughout the UK, from boutique agencies through to global leaders, and we’re always looking for new, like-minded partners to share best practice and create bespoke talent-based solutions that service all levels of a project. Talent-based solutions In response to the roundtable debate, Morson International, together with Vital Rail and Morson Vital Training, has developed a detailed whitepaper entitled ‘Skills on track: Future proofing the rail industry’, which outlines a number of bespoke talent strategies and techniques that support the achievement of a contractor’s SEE outputs and works to meet the specific skill levels required during key delivery points. The rail industry has one of the most positive forward outlooks, with more than £14billion due to be invested into the sector over the next decade. The whitepaper builds upon the insights gained from the Tier 1 contractors and their supply chain partners, which combined with our own expertise and knowledge of harnessing talent to help meet the demands of our clients working on some of the most ambitious infrastructure schemes, details the effective strategies that must be adopted to ensure HS2’s successful delivery. The importance of apprenticeships Engineering new perceptions around the sector and improving education and guidance, particularly from primary school age upwards, are two major factors detailed throughout the whitepaper report, which recruiters must play an active role in helping to improve. HS2 Ltd is committed to improving the take of apprenticeships during the project’s construction and operation phases and the whitepaper sheds light on what actions are needed to effectively achieve this core objective. There was unanimous agreement around the table that the current perceptions of apprenticeships being a ‘last resort’ are preventing young people from choosing this aspirational route. A number of Tier 1 contractors gave examples of how their own apprenticeship schemes, even those at higher levels, were being dismissed by parents and young people as a viable alternative to traditional A Level and University routes. Whilst parents still remain a major blocker, more needs to be done to promote the career opportunities in rail at a far younger age, something that we’re already working to achieve by partnering with education providers from primary school age right through to degree level. The whitepaper examines in detail a number of effective solutions that will work to ensure the successful delivery of HS2 and the achievement of its core objectives, including prioritising more spending at primary school level to educate teachers in becoming ambassadors for vocational training, and awareness campaigns to showcase engineering as an aspirational career path and dispel stereotypes. Attracting people into the sector Collectively, these solutions, combined with active strategies to support in-career transitioning to attract workers with similar skillsets, will support the upskilling of the current workforce and build a sustainable and diverse pipeline of talent that also works to attract people from underrepresented and hard to reach groups. Collaboration is the core theme running throughout the whitepaper and in response, Morson International has proposed launching a new HS2 ‘Think Tank’ to oversee, coordinate and facilitate joint effort amongst the supply chain, strengthen industry-wide initiatives and provide a vehicle for driving real action and progression. Collectively we can make recruitment stronger and we are committed to bringing real change, which is a case that we’re bringing to MPs, education providers and other key stakeholders to turn talk into action. HS2 is only the beginning and we’re working to replicate the same strategies to other major projects, including Hinkley Point C. Establishing shared goals with powerful solutions requires effective collaboration and we’ll be delivering a number of supplier days and workshops over the coming months with our like-minded recruitment partners, particularly those in the SME space, to upskill and improve industry-wide talent matching. We manage £multi-million contracts for our clients and these intelligent solutions rooted in collaboration and sustainability will achieve the best outcomes. For more information download our ‘Skills on track: Future proofing the rail industry’ whitepaper. To find your opportunity on HS2, search our latest rail jobs now.Find out more