Future workforce

Will the European tape industry have a future workforce, and what will it look like? 

In 2019, we conducted among our Membership the Afera Workforce Outlook 2030 Survey, the interesting results of which were incorporated into Christiane Schober’s Lisbon Conference presentation “Demographic change in the workforce: an insight into Millennials, ‘a generation disrupted’”. Read

According to the approximately 30 Afera Member Companies which participated in the Survey, 65% believe recruiting and talent retention is “relatively hard” or “a big issue”. The top concern is finding the right candidates for R&D, followed by engineers and technical specialists.

57% said that it is very hard to find the right people in marketing and sales too. Half of the respondents said that not finding the right people is the #1 limitation for growth. “So this is more than an HR topic,” Ms. Schober emphasised. “Recruiting and retention problems are actually impacting businesses directly.”

High competition and low fluctuation in the tape labour market
Competition in recruitment within the adhesive tape market is high due to the peculiarity of the Industry. The tape industry is a very specific niche within the chemicals industry, with many complexities and variances in the types of jobs on offer. “And the platform that Afera offers is valuable in strengthening the image and awareness of the tape industry,” commented Ms. Schober. There is a lot of potential for raising the profile of the Industry’s layers and segments in order to make it more attractive to various employment target groups.

Competition in salaries is also high among experts, according to Afera Member Companies. Furthermore, there is low employment fluctuation which has to do with the particularly high level of specialisation of the people working in the tape industry.

High rural presence of tape companies
There is a high rural presence of companies within the European adhesive tape value chain. Many, especially family-owned, companies are located in the countryside, where there is a relatively lower rate of unemployment. This factor contributes to making it hard to recruit experts into the Industry. According to Ms. Schober, forward-thinking companies must overcome the urge to recruit external experts, instead focussing on employee learning and developing within companies in order to build and strengthen internal talent: “Companies should invest in determining the requirements and technology for proper learning and development internally, especially in times when recruitment is more challenging.”

Drivers of change
“The last challenge for Afera Member Companies that I found very interesting,” Ms. Schober noted, “is that it is very hard to recruit talent with a combination of rural presence and an urban or cosmopolitan mindset that are drawn to the Industry.”

The future of the workforce is the future of the adhesive tape industry
“Given what half the workforce looks like presently, I see a lot of conservatism in the tape industry at my level,” remarked Afera President Evert Smit, who is also director scouting at Lohmann GmbH & Co. KG. “How can we make our industry accept the inevitable about the young, diverse, faster-moving, more forward-thinking Millennials and Generation Zs making up the majority of our workforce? How do we change the mentality of the older, white, male conservatives at the top making strategic decisions and supervising the younger workforce?” Mr. Smit is exploring this topic on the agenda of Afera’s Steering Committee.


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