A few months ago, 23-year-old Lily McQueen had never worked a day in the packaging industry. But after looking for a job with more responsibility and hearing about the development support and training offered by Eco Flexibles, the former administrative assistant for a builders’ merchant decided to make a complete career change.
Now working as a Sales Administrator with Eco Flexibles, Lily is thriving in her new role and has already settled well into the team.
“There’s six people in my immediate team, and they are all so supportive,” Lily said. “I am still learning about the industry, and everyone I work with is open and encouraging. If I don’t understand something I know I can ask any one of my colleagues and they’d help me, everyone feels comfortable here. I don’t feel like the new girl, I just feel part of a great team.”
Lily’s recruitment follows an ongoing project by Eco Flexibles to make careers in the packaging industry more accessible and appealing for young people.
The issue of an aging skilled workforce looms large over the UK print and packaging sector. Although the industry benefits from a wealth of established talent and specialist knowledge, as people who have been in their roles for years or even decades approach retirement age, the risk of losing their skills presents a significant problem.
At the same time, the sector has traditionally not always been seen as a viable career option for younger people. Despite the revolution in technology and processes in recent years, packaging can still have a reputation as being an unexciting place to work.
Eco Flexibles believes that bringing in young people is vital for the future of the industry. New talent adds fresh ideas and unbiased viewpoints to a business, as well as a willingness to question established processes just because “that’s the way things have always been done”. With many existing employees who have come up through the ranks to enjoy fulfilling careers, the business also wanted to give something back and offer the same opportunity to the next generation.
Achieving this has involved actively pushing to develop a culture where new employees feel supported and listened to. For example, Eco Flexibles recently relocated to new premises and is asking employees for suggestions for improvements they would like to see – such as amenities like dart boards and table tennis stations in the break areas. Recruits are also being offered career progression opportunities through training, and existing team members are encouraged to offer support and coaching.
For Lily’s part, this approach made all the difference. As one of several young people who have recently taken their first step into the packaging sector with Eco Flexibles, Lily has hit the ground running. Despite just exiting her probation period, she is already well on her way to developing the skills and knowledge to thrive in this industry, supported by Eco Flexibles at every point.
“We have all been embraced into the business,” she said. “I don’t feel like I am in my 20’s; there’s no difference, there’s never any comments about age. We all have things in common here and we all work together so well, and all bring different experiences to the team.
“I didn’t really know much about the industry when I first joined, but hearing about Eco Flexibles I really liked the sound of the company, and on my first week I was taken on tours to meet a suppliers and customers and that was so helpful. I took in a lot of information very quickly but since then I think it’s a really interesting and cool industry, to see how things are made, then you pop to the supermarket and you see it on the shelves. It’s quite fun knowing that if didn’t do this then that piece of packaging might not be there.”
Interested in a career in packaging? Send your details into the Eco Flexibles team and if we have a vacancy we’ll be in touch!