HomePeopleLost in transition

Lost in transition

Listen to this article

Getting the job can sometimes be the easy part. It’s settling in that can often be tricky. Simple things like getting your uniform and introductory training can be long, drawn-out processes. In many cases, stretched HR teams simply don’t have the resources.

It makes the transition far more stressful, for both sides, than it needs to be.

Recruitment consultancy Ford & Stanley specialises in finding and placing people within the rail and engineering sectors. The company’s managing director, James Wall, who has been visiting traction and maintenance depots most weeks for the past decade, said he regularly sees new staff turning up on a Monday morning with no basic tooling, wearing overalls emblazoned with the name and logo of their previous employer.

In 2015, Ford & Stanley launched Talentwise – a service designed to build on its traditional recruitment offering for skilled, manual workers. James is convinced it will go some way to stopping this cycle once and for all.


The philosophy of Talentwise is to make the transition for a new employee a good experience for everyone. It seeks to prepare new employees so they are equipped and ready to work on their first day, saving time and, importantly, making sure they are safe.

As well as receiving tools and workwear, Ford & Stanley carries out pre-employment medicals and mandatory drugs and alcohol screenings. It also works with clients, and its experienced training partner Qualitrain, to develop training programmes to suit.

‘In short it can be as intensive or as little, if anything, depending on what the client wants,’ said James.

Ford & Stanley doesn’t charge for the extra service. Instead, it picks up the bill for the tooling and training itself, believing that the long-term benefits will outweigh this initial investment.

‘Talentwise is one of the fastest-growing areas of the business,’ said James, and is already improving the experience of people coming to work in the rail industry.

‘People start on a Monday morning and they feel part of the company immediately.’

The professional arm of the business, Ford & Stanley Recruitment, has a similar initiative which helps candidates map out their first 100 days at a new job.

Again, the aim is to provide a complete service, to de- stress and support candidates. In the past, this has involved helping candidates to find somewhere to live or new schools for their children to go to.



Retaining skilled workers within the rail industry is seen as essential. The skills shortage won’t purely be solved by new apprentices and graduates. Keeping people in the industry is as important as bringing them in to begin with.

It’s a fact which was highlighted in a report published by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) last year. It estimated that an inability to retain staff could cost the UK engineering sector up to £9.5 billion in the next 10 years if not addressed. The ACE broke down the costs associated with losing staff of various levels of seniority. It estimated that each time a company loses a senior technician it costs £4,908. Replacing a junior engineer costs £2,912. Even the loss of an entry-level technician costs £2,820.

‘We’ve got a problem of getting people into the industry and also retaining them,’ said James.

‘We want the best candidates coming to us and we can pass the best candidates to our clients.’

James hopes that other organisations start to adopt a similar approach in order to improve the picture around the rest of the industry.

‘As a supplier, we take it as a responsibility to train and improve the candidates that we supply to our clients. We want to proactively address the current skills shortage and further promote rail as the industry of choice.


‘After spending four years in the Royal Navy, naturally I was pretty nervous about applying for a role outside of the Armed Forces. Ford & Stanley approached me about working in the rail industry, which in all honesty I knew nothing about. Jake Rowland, the consultant I was dealing with at the time, provided me with an overview of the rail industry, information about RVEL as a company and went through an in-depth job description, answering any questions I had.

‘The recruitment process was very smooth – Jake made sure I was fully prepared for interview, running through sample questions and making sure I’d done my research. It was only a matter of days after the interview when I received a phone call offering me the role. I was really chuffed!

‘On the day of my induction with RVEL, Jake was there to greet me in reception with all of the appropriate tooling and safety workwear. It took a huge amount of pressure off me having Ford & Stanley provide everything I needed to start work. Having come from a military background, I had no real idea of what to expect, but Jake really helped me to get over those ‘first day nerves’. I would most definitely recommend Ford & Stanley following my experience as a candidate.’