Operations Director of engineering firm Mage Control Systems, Janet Menzies, has seen the firm enjoy rapid growth in the last few years. She turned to the Skills for Growth service from Skills Development Scotland (SDS) to help the company expand further.

Skills for Growth provides a fresh perspective into the skills the business requires for the future.

Mage, based in East Kilbride, provides bespoke electronic engineering solutions to a wide range of sectors, including medical, aerospace and renewables. Started in 2016, the company now boasts a workforce of 18.

Skills for Growth – offered in partnership with Remarkable – is a fully-funded service for companies with between five and 250 employees and offers up to two days of free consultancy, helping employers such as Mage Control Systems understand their skills needs and to create a detailed business plan with guidance towards the right support.

Janet said: “We had been looking at a number of sources of support to help the business grow.

“The business is growing and adapting – and will soon be moving into manufacturing too. It was important to look at how best to recruit and develop our current workforce.”

Structured plan for growth

Mage was receiving support from Business Gateway which referred the firm to Skills for Growth from SDS. The Mage team was supported by Neil Cunningham, SDS Employer Engagement Adviser, and consultant Sheila Anderson from Remarkable.

Janet added: “We felt that we were ready to expand the workforce, but Sheila helped us reflect that we weren’t quite there yet. She worked alongside us to plan for growth – but done in a structured way.”

According to Neil, Mage is a specialist and innovative company which is keen to expand.

He said: “They are offering high-value, high-tech jobs within the local area. It’s a company doing very bespoke pieces of work across different sectors.

“They have not long moved to new premises as they have outgrown where they were.”

Developing a pipeline of talent

As part of the package of support, Neil and Sheila assessed the skills needs of the company, providing them with recommendations to develop its workforce.

Neil added: “Our support focussed on helping Mage develop a short and long-term recruitment pipeline.

“This included developing a recruitment strategy to attract under-represented groups.”

Thanks to this support, Mage has been able to introduce new recruitment practices, including the introduction of Modern Apprenticeships.

Janet said: “We have now built up excellent connections with New College Lanarkshire. Because of the specialist nature of what the business offers, work-based learning has become a key component to our recruitment strategy.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the fact we now have four Modern Apprentices.”

Janet is conscious of the skills pressures facing the industry now and in the future.

“In terms of engineering, we know we are going to have a shortage of younger people coming into the profession. We need to think forward – and that’s why I am looking to take on two Foundation Apprentices at the moment.”

Foundation Apprenticeships allow school pupils in S5/S6 to spend time out of the classroom with a learning provider and in a workplace to gain a qualification at the same level as a Higher, giving them a head-start on their career.

Network of support

In addition to local learning providers, Skills for Growth also helped Mage benefit from other sources of business support, including Developing the Young Workforce (DYW), and Routes to Work South, a charity specialising in supporting the unemployed into training, education or sustainable employment.

Janet added: “Neil has been such a huge help, especially in terms of helping us develop connections with the likes of colleges and other agencies. I would describe this as being a really good network of support.”

Janet is clear that the support from SDS has made a significant difference to the company.

She said: “It’s had a huge impact on what the company does, particularly in terms of our approach to recruitment.

“Thanks to the support from SDS, my knowledge has increased, our networks are greater, and we know where to go for advice.”

Investing in a young workforce

Providing an attractive and rewarding environment for a local young workforce matters a great deal to Mage, which has developed connections with local schools already.

Janet added: “Our values are very important – regardless of the industry we are working in, we are able to help develop and invest in local young people.

“It‘s not always about what we do but how we do it – our team and our culture must be at the forefront of everything.”

Mage Control is one of hundreds of business which benefit from Skills for Growth each year. To find out more please visit ourskillsforce.co.uk/growth