‘Morson STEM Foundation’ launched to level up the North West

‘Morson STEM Foundation’ launched to level up the North West

Morson Group has set a benchmark for big business involvement in the north’s levelling up agenda by funding a new STEM centre (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) and multiple scholarships at the University of Salford.

Opening to students for the first time this term, the new state-of-the-art Morson Maker Space facility is part of a long-standing commitment by Morson Group, and the family who established the business back in 1969, to give back to their local community in the North West and create opportunities for young people who might otherwise be held back by social deprivation.

A c.£1billion turnover recruitment and engineering design business headquartered in Eccles, Salford, Morson Group was established by Gerry Mason, who defied humble beginnings to build the successful, international company. The business and the Mason family are the main financial backers for the Morson Group STEM Foundation at the University of Salford, which forms part of the University’s new £65million Science, Engineering & Environment Building. The STEM centre facilities have been designed to provide students with opportunities to explore new ideas and innovate, gaining hands-on experience of the types of equipment they can expect to use when they move from education into the workplace.


The Morson STEM Foundation: Securing opportunities for future generations from Morson on Vimeo.

Funding for the Morson Group STEM Foundation is the latest in a number of initiatives from Morson and the Mason family aimed at financially supporting young people from underprivileged backgrounds.

Nineteen of England’s 20 most deprived neighbourhoods are in the north*, with Salford appearing in that top 20 list. Morson Group is adopting a pioneering approach to addressing the issue while connecting businesses with the future skills and talent needed in growth sectors. The Gerry Mason Engineering Scholarship was established in 2015, in memory of Gerry Mason; a design engineer and the founder of Morson Group, and the Morson Group Scholarship was launched in 2019, to support students completing an engineering or technology degree, respectively. The 50th local scholar was able to gain access to higher education at the University of Salford this year thanks to these scholarships.

Ged Mason OBE, CEO of Morson Group, commented:

“Having grown up in Salford and proudly rooting our HQ in the city, which has supported local talent for more than 50 years, we are passionate about generating opportunities for people locally. Our involvement in the STEM Foundation and scholarship programmes delivers on a long-established commitment to generate opportunity and nurture talent in Salford and demonstrates the role that our business can play.

“As recruiters, we know that companies desperately need a pipeline of new skills from young people who can combine fresh thinking with real-world experience of STEM disciplines and the technologies used in today’s workplaces. Levelling up must connect the need for improved outcomes and aspirations with demand for world-class skills and ambition. That’s why we’re working with the University of Salford – it’s an investment in young people’s future, the future of British business and a future UK where there is opportunity for all.”

The University of Salford held a special event to thank Morson Group and the Mason family for their contribution on 12th October, welcoming representatives from the company, the university, local commercial partners and students to tour the facilities. Amongst the guests were many of the students and graduates who have benefitted from the Gerry Mason Engineering Scholarship and the Morson Group Scholarship. Delegates were able to find out more about the opportunities the Morson Group STEM Foundation will provide for interdisciplinary collaboration and commercial projects involving student R&D.

The facilities include a wide range of industrial machines and equipment for use by students from across the University of Salford, which will enable businesses to engage with the university and students in new ways, thereby creating opportunities for employment, training and exciting new projects.

Dr Maria Stukoff, Maker Space Director from the University of Salford, added:

“It has been wonderful to welcome back students for the new academic year with this fantastic new Morson Maker Space facility, which offers them the freedom to explore their ideas and learn valuable, practical skills.

“The Mason family and Morson Group’s generosity will not only be celebrated at this event, but for years to come by generations of students who will benefit from the success of a local company that has given back to the Salford community in such a tangible and lasting way.”

Morson Group, together with the University of Salford, is also co-funding IntoUniversity’s new learning centre at the Beacon Centre in central Salford, which will work in the heart of the local community to support young people aged 7 to 18.

In central Salford, more than half of young people are growing up in poverty, which has long-lasting effects on educational attainment**. The new IntoUniversity centre, which opens this autumn, will support young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods in achieving their goals for higher education, employment, and work-based training, whilst also working closely with schools and local families to sow the seeds of aspiration at a young age.

*The English Indices of Deprivation report, compiled by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
**End Child Poverty, 2019

Morson Group responds to the government’s fiscal statement

Morson Group responds to the government’s fiscal statement

​Paul Gilmour, finance director of Morson Group, reflects on the Chancellor’s fiscal statement and its impact on the recruitment sector.

“Following the leadership election campaign and recent media interviews dropping heavy hints of tax cuts, we were expecting some reverses in the “fiscal event” statement; however, the outcome was more radical than most thought!

“What we heard was substantial changes to the tax system and measures that seek to boost investment, drive growth, unleash the potential of key sectors and enable businesses to employ the skilled people they need to support those goals.

“The thorny issue of government borrowing and the cost of the measures announced are significant and warrant their own discussion, of course. However, there is much positive news for the commercial sectors across a wide array of industries in these announcements. While much of the focus for the media has understandably been on the cost of living crisis for families, and it is good to see that addressed, the fiscal statement also embraced measures designed to engage business and encourage investment.

“Critically and perhaps most surprisingly for the recruitment sector, was the steps to simplify IR35 rules and the promise to repeal the 2017 and 2021 reforms, which the Chancellor correctly stated have added significant costs and complexity for businesses of all sizes and their workforces. This is a welcome step to enable the contracting sector to thrive and make it more efficient and productive to engage the right workforce at the right time, and recognises the flexibility and drive of the great UK workforce. However, as the Chancellor explained, the government will “continue to keep compliance closely under review”, a comment which must be analysed and assessed with further detail to effectively support clients, contractors and our wider supply chain in navigating the new IR35 landscape. We hope to see a clear roadmap for reversing the current rules, as contractors operating via a personal service company will once again be responsible for determining their IR35 status come April 2023.

“Cuts to Corporation Tax and the well-trailed and immediate U-turn on National Insurance rises will encourage businesses to engage staff and to enable investment in growth and skills. The Apprenticeship Levy might be an area that can also be considered in due course to assess its application and scope.

“Meanwhile, the announcements about boosting growth by funding infrastructure projects and making it easier for them to get off the ground is great news for the UK’s growth potential. However, it presents recruitment and skills challenges in sectors already struggling to attract the right talent. At Morson, we have established programmes in place to attract talent into technical disciplines, providing training and implementing stretch recruitment strategies to leverage transferable skills. As the Chancellor pointed out, the UK currently has more job vacancies than unemployed people, so these types of initiatives need to be embedded in people strategies across the supply chain, and a commitment to inclusion and diversity will be integral to those aims. The Chancellor alluded to forthcoming policy announcements in a number of areas, including childcare, immigration and encouraging older workers, and we need to see some creative thinking in these areas to help employers access the skills they need to achieve the government’s ambitious vision for growth.

“The announcement about new investment zones also has the potential to add an interesting new dynamic to the recruitment market. We may see strategic moves for businesses into areas where attractive fiscal policies and skills both play a part in creating a new industrial map of the UK. At Morson, our skills mapping will help clients at a strategic level as they consider the potential benefits and risks of the new investment zones as this policy becomes clearer.

“The headlines going into this fiscal statement were all about fuel costs – for homes and businesses – and those announcements are certainly significant for the commercial world. But there was so much more here that will affect businesses across a wide range of sectors and demand a rethink of people strategies, both for companies and for their recruitment partners.

“As alluded to earlier, the devil may be in the detail to many of these announcements and there will, of course, be more to follow, for example, with respects to the EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, which may lead to a review of legislation governing working time, agency workers, part-time workers and more. As always, we’ll continue to keep our feeds up to date with expert insight and commentary regarding the latest changes.”

St. Modwen on HR outsourcing: why we outsourced our HR function

St. Modwen on HR outsourcing: why we outsourced our HR function

To achieve the best outcomes from human resources requires a two-step approach. Firstly, a strategic, high level plan on how HR processes will help achieve a business’ wider objectives is needed. Secondly, it requires an on-the-ground transactional team who are the faces of the department, who oversee the day-to-day operations and ensure employees receive a white glove service. However, if there’s any clink in the chain of this set up, or if an issue suddenly becomes complex, both teams often become entrenched together meaning the HR function is put on pause.

As we face a post-pandemic war on attracting and retaining talent, increases in salaries across all sectors, the prospect of a five-generational workforce by the end of the decade and a very sudden shift to hybrid working, the chance of this happening is becoming more likely. And this is all happening as teams continue trying to balance keeping people safe, enabling their working preferences and retaining the cultures they’ve worked hard to develop over the course of years.

HR professionals get into the industry because they’re interested in how people interact with one another; they thrive on the emotional connection between people working in teams and at different levels in an organisation. So, when things do get tough, it can be difficult to remove emotion from challenging decisions. To overcome this, more and more businesses are investing into outsourced HR functions to enable all people working within a business to focus on its progression and achieving its strategic objectives.  

Taking the HRO route

Such was the case with expert property developer, St. Modwen. Having already reached out to Morson to discuss outsourcing its recruitment, the vast learnings following the UK lockdown and enforced working from home led the company’s HR team to explore the option of outsourcing some of its function.

Becky Cund, head of HR operations & sustainable people projects at St. Modwen, said:

“Our business is always growing; we’re progressive, fast-paced and as well as regularly hiring new employees, we promote internally a lot, too. This puts a lot of reliance on the HR team to support our line managers with people management and we had continuity challenges if any of our small HR team were ill or on holiday.

“I’ve got experience of poorly managed outsourced HR, so I was tentative; I’ve seen it become very impersonal, and seen providers never establish connections with internal teams. However, peers have seen it work very well – it was all about finding the right partner.

“We looked into the several different options on the market, but there was always some fall down. Companies might offer employer relations support but wouldn’t do typical HR administration tasks like payroll and holiday requests. Or they could do those operational tasks but wouldn’t help manage our L&D plans or liaise with our third parties such as our legal team or fleet providers.

“We’d already been speaking to Morson about outsourcing our recruitment, so we just put the question to the team. And while it wasn’t an existing part of the business model, we were told the skills were available in-house to do it. We were open to hearing the pitch and what we received was head and shoulders above anything else we’d seen or heard. There was some serendipity around it all; if we hadn’t been discussing recruitment resourcing, the conversation might never have happened.”

HRO in practice

Katie Winstanley, HR director at Morson, said:

“It was clear from our first interaction that the values and intrinsic beliefs of our HR experts and the internal team at St. Modwen were very aligned. There’s always differences between every organisation, but our priority was ensuring that the employees within the business would feel no disruption in delivery; we needed to be fully embedded with a consistent presence and a persona that matched St. Modwen’s brand.”

Morson was appointed to oversee the employee life cycle, from beginning to end – from onboarding after recruitment, organising company cars and booking people onto the induction programme, to managing holiday requests, administering payroll and overseeing relationships with outside suppliers, including St. Modwen’s legal support and fleet operators. Morson has built a core St. Modwen team, which is permanently focused on St. Modwen for 80 per cent of the time. Team members work on site and if remote, communicate from a St. Modwen email address. They attend weekly catch-up meetings and are involved in the planning and development of operational improvements, as well as feeding into quarterly reviews for a truly seamless delivery.

Becky said:

“All of these activities have SLAs assigned, but when Morson applied for the work the KPIs weren’t included in the contract. It was suggested we agree SLAs in partnership over a period of time, which dispelled a lot of myths for me; I wasn’t tied down to a supplier’s idea of what good looks like, we did it together.”

“You can’t work any other way – our approach was sculpted around St. Modwen’s challenges and the solution is fit for purpose rather than off the shelf. Having a core team means we are always ‘on’, while they benefit from the beauty of outsourcing during peaks and troughs because we can apply additional resource whenever it’s needed. We’re truly unified, to the extent that some employees don’t even realise the team isn’t an in-house entity.”

Achieving more together

Melissa Hewitt, senior group HR advisor at Morson – who acts as the leading HR interface for St. Modwen – said:

“So much has been achieved in such a short space of time. Primarily, the implementation plan was an example of true collaboration; this wasn’t something St. Modwen had considered for long, and not something we had a team already dedicated to. But we worked together to agree on what was needed and everything went smoothly.

“We’ve developed dashboards which not only provide rich data to St. Modwen on the things the transactions their employees are completing with our team, but also demonstrates the difference in the number of transactions being completed right now compared to before our solution was in place. What it’s revealing is that these transactions did previously exist and were important, but they are now more efficiently managed. We’re also using a ticketing system to demonstrate that our SLAs are being met; so far, we’re achieving them 98 per cent; five months in, that’s an amazing place to be.

“Once we have a year of our own data under our belt, we’ll be able to spot trends, too. For example, we’ll be able to say, ‘you had a spike of enquiries about annual leave in January, so let’s allocate some resources there to create tutorials on how to book leave through the system quickly and easily’. It’s about pre-empting, being smarter while developing a personal relationship with St. Modwen’s employees just as if we were an in-house function. We want them to feel our team prioritises them, and when people are picking up the phone to me rather than their line manager for things like payroll requests, that shows it’s working as it should.”

A more valuable future

Which companies benefit most from outsourcing HR? There are a few key criteria.

Katie said:

“Outsourcing your HR is particularly effective if a company feels their in-house solution could achieve more. If employees could use their time more effectively, if senior leaders are focusing more on tactical operations than on strategic delivery and if SLAs aren’t being met, these are all indicators that something must change.

“We understand companies have reservations about outsourcing, but we would never take on something if we thought there was a chance we could fail. The HR service is often the beating heart of an organisation, and we want to get that right. In the case of St. Modwen, we enforced a three-month trial period of our HR solution ahead of instigating an end-to-end recruitment programme; we wanted to prove ourselves and that move is paying off for us and for them.”

Becky added:

“This is our foundation year; we’re getting everything in place to ensure the service works for our people. We’re seeing positive outcomes already which is way ahead of where we thought we would be. In three years’ time, we want the HR service from Morson to be entirely self-sufficient – for them to be so ingrained in our business that we’re constantly finding added value, using their knowledge and insight to improve our business.

“We have an ambitious people strategy, but outsourcing is helping us to achieve the trajectory we need to grow exponentially. Any company on a similar path should consider it. If you’re looking into it, go with the company that proves it’s done its research into your business, and be clear on what you want to achieve from the partnership from the outset.

“Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of the relationship. Morson is an extension of our team, and it’s felt like that since the very first interaction.”

If you would like to find out more about outsourced HR and explore how outsourcing your HR function can transform your organisation, get in touch with Morson Group HR director, Katie Winstanley, katie.winstanley@morson.com

SIA figures highlight Morson as the UK’s leader in engineering recruitment

SIA figures highlight Morson as the UK’s leader in engineering recruitment

​Morson Group has been named the largest and number one engineering recruitment firm in the UK in recently released figures. Morson also retained its position as the 7th largest staffing firm overall, with SIA valuing the UK staffing market at £30.9billion in 2020.

Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) has shared its latest Largest Engineering Staffing Firms in the UK report, based on staffing revenue generated by the 12 largest engineering recruiters in the country, with Morson Group topping the table.

It defines ‘staffing revenue’ as revenue generated from the provision of temporary workers to business clients, as well as direct hires, permanent placements and from ‘temp to hire’.

As well as being a leader in engineering recruitment, Morson Group also retained its position as the 7th largest staffing firm overall, with SIA valuing the UK staffing market at £30.9billion in 2020.

According to the data, engineering staffing accounts for 24% of the total UK professional staffing market, with the segment only behind IT in terms of market size.

Revenue in the engineering segment of the UK staffing market decreased by 24% in the 12 months analysed [2020] to a value of £3.9billion, but despite this, Morson Group’s market share increased to 19%, from 16% in the 12 months prior, demonstrating its dominance in the sector, with its next nearest competitor accounting for 8% market share.

Ged Mason, CEO of Morson Group, said:

Though this has been a particularly difficult trading period for many, the Government giving important or critical engineering and construction sectors the green light to continue through the lockdowns enabled us to capitalise on what quickly became a candidate-driven market.

“Clients required niche and volume talent to deliver some of the largest infrastructure projects in the country, and we were able to source it using our extensive networks and our collection of innovative products and services, which have demonstrated to customers that we’re on the pulse of specialist industries such as nuclear, aviation and rail.

“The publishing of these figures from the SIA further strengthens our position as the leading talent solutions specialist in STEM and engineering, with our market share more than double our nearest counterpart. And as we look ahead to the next 12 months, we’ll remain a constant source of support and consultancy for clients seeking to add the very best skillsets to their teams.”

As the leader in engineering recruitment Morson exists to solve challenges. Each of our service lines has been purposefully developed in response to our client’s needs.

Visit our RPO and MSP pages to find out more about our recruitment offer, or, hear it from our customers…

About the SIA

SIA is the Global Advisor on Staffing and Workforce Solutions
Founded in 1989, Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) is the global advisor on staffing and workforce solutions. Our proprietary research covers all categories of employed and non-employed work including temporary staffing, independent contracting and other types of contingent labour. SIA’s independent and objective analysis provides insights into the services and suppliers operating in the workforce solutions ecosystem, including staffing firms, managed service providers, recruitment process outsourcers,
payrolling/compliance firms and talent acquisition technology specialists such as vendor management systems, online staffing platforms, crowdsourcing and online work services. We also provide training and accreditation with our unique Certified Contingent Workforce Professional (CCWP) program.

Known for our award-winning content, data, support tools, publications, executive conferences and events, we help both suppliers and buyers of workforce solutions make better-informed decisions that improve business results and minimize risk. As a division of the international business media company, Crain Communications Inc., SIA is headquartered in Mountain View, California, with offices in London, England.

Reactive recruitment won’t cut it in 2022 – you need a talent strategy

Reactive recruitment won’t cut it in 2022 – you need a talent strategy

The pandemic created a tidal wave of recruitment challenges that many had never prepared for before.

In many sectors, recruitment froze entirely because life was placed on pause. As a result, talent teams were furloughed or made redundant, while the teams left behind were handling rapid legislation changes. As they’ve scaled back up, it’s been a challenge to find suitable skillsets to fill the backlog of roles that have become re-available in other parts of the business.

While many industries experienced a downturn because of the lockdowns, in contrast, others – such as the e-commerce and digital sectors – were tremendously successful and capitalised on an influx of talent to their teams. However, recruiters who had previously been able to forecast spikes in hiring were suddenly faced with an overwhelming task to hire quickly enough to meet demand.

As we continue to feel the tidal wave of industry disruption caused by the pandemic, companies must become proactive with their hiring. Here are the signals you might see from your hiring team which suggest they need the support of a talent strategy and/or third-party specialist in 2022.

The need to recruit vs. lack of resource to recruit

The first thing to look for is a very obvious need to recruit, but a lack of ability to prioritise it; in short, your team is currently too overwhelmed to dedicate the time and resources required to fill your vacancies. Alternatively, candidates may be committing to a role with your company before suddenly taking a vacancy with a different employer; this tends to indicate the candidate is leveraging your business to create counter offers and suggests your recruitment process isn’t tightly controlled. Perhaps the candidate’s ambitions haven’t been understood, or they’re not being properly engaged with throughout the hiring journey.

You might already use recruitment agencies and notice your spending is through the roof, but you can’t quantify performance or results. Perhaps you’re inundated with CVs for a role, but none quite fit the bill; if this is the case, the agency isn’t working closely enough with your organisation to find the right skillsets and values to meet your culture and technical requirements. This might mean your projects become delayed, causing internal objectives and targets to be missed.

Where are the candidates?!

Since the pandemic – but also pre-Covid, from businesses, looking to source niche talent – our RPO team has been recognised for our ability to provide businesses with the insights and data required to source the most suitable candidates for a role, as well as our ability to embed within a business culture and employer brand proposition. Our services have been utilised to create a real point of difference in the hiring landscape and with great effect.

For example, as talent teams have fluctuated in capacity, we’ve worked on a project basis to supplement available resources. More companies have used our Digital Studio to enhance visibility in crowded, candidate-led markets. We’re being appointed to support workforce planning, ensuring teams are better prepared for spikes in demand so they can talent pool in advance, rather than in reaction to a surge. We’re overhauling onboarding journeys to create positive, personal experiences that are more reflective of the brands we represent.

With such a candidate-led market on our hands, we anticipate that in the coming months we’ll witness the highest ever level of resignations; it’s the first time in a long time the country has felt quietly confident enough to move jobs. This, along with the demand for flexible working, the move out of the furlough scheme and people using up masses of saved up holidays will put a huge strain on talent teams once again. If they reach burnout, a domino effect will be created whereby operating teams may be left completely under-resourced for months on end.

Is an RPO the solution?

Internal recruiters are the gateway to any business, in the privileged position of bringing people into a company that will lead to its future success. But if you envisage this type of tipping point taking place within your business, act now and begin to take steps to rectify the issue before it manifests and takes hold. Such a conversation can be challenging to have but it’s for the good of your business. Allow an outsourced provider to manage the more complex, talent strategy challenges, while your internal team might be allocated to high volume roles that they have vast experience in filling. An RPO can help you fill a set of specialist vacancies that might not yet be associated with your business, help your brand stand out in a noisy market, or leverage a bespoke platform to source from a wider talent pool than is available to your in-house recruiters.

Much better than that, they’ll get to know your business inside and out, developing an understanding and awareness of your culture, vision and objectives to the extent they’ll perform just like an internal team member, but with certain advantages over your competition. In time, they’ll become indispensable and a crucial part in delivering an effective talent strategy.

With 50 years’ experience helping clients with operations around the world to navigate their recruitment challenges and refine their talent strategy, in 2021 we launched RPOne to the market.

It’s a transformation of the traditional RPO model, offering a more agile, custom-fit solution to organisations of all sizes that wish to make their talent ambitions a reality and gain a competitive edge within their industry.

To find out more about our specialist RPO offer, click here.