Manufacturing the dream job…

Dreaming of a job in manufacturing isn’t going to be at the top of most young people’s wish list. And that’s fine. I wanted to be a rock star for the majority of my youth.

However, when it comes to the point when a young person is making decisions about their future career and they are considering all the potential industries in front of them, it’s vital that manufacturing and engineering stands out as an attractive option they can genuinely believe will give them a rewarding, interesting, varied and enjoyable career.

I’ve worked in engineering and manufacturing my whole working life. Since starting a summer holiday apprenticeship for Sharp Manufacturing Ltd as an eager 15 year old keen to make some spending money during the holidays, I’ve grown and developed my experience and skill set across the food, electrical and packaging industries: becoming an Engineering manager for international food manufactures to providing support and advisory services to large and small manufacturing firms. It’s been both financially and personally rewarding and I’ve loved every minute of it.

But how do we attract new talent to the industry in order to continually develop and be the global leading sector in the UK?

The Manufacturing Weeks that are taking place across Bradford and Leeds next month are a brilliant way of showcasing the potential of the sector to school children.

It would be fantastic if every authority engaged with similar initiatives that really bring the industry to life for pupils, linking directly with people and businesses from across the manufacturing community.

Ensuring the industry is not just confined to month of October, in terms of promoting and engaging with students is equally important. Ongoing opportunities for people from the industry to speak in schools, work experience and mentor schemes, integrating the topic into lesson plans and continually engaging and educating career staff on industry developments is crucial. As is addressing other significant factors including:

  • Myth busting:
    Not all manufacturing jobs involve people working on factory lines, and not all engineering roles are dominated by older males. Along with roles being poorly paid, involving long hours and little emotional reward, these stereotypes are still very much embedded and need continually addressing to show the variety of opportunity, and the inclusivity of the industry. There is still a lot we need to do in this area, but those who are leading should be highlighted and supported to engage and inspire others.
  • Public figureheads
    Having people in the public eye that young people can relate and inspire to, is so important for any industry in order to attract interest and engagement.
    With the lack of young figure heads in the media from the manufacturing industry, it limits the appeal and awareness, and unfortunately reinforces the opinion, it’s not a young person’s industry. Applications to be the manufacturing equivalent of Raheem Sterling, apply now!
  • Leading on what matters
    Sustainability, flexible working and mental health support are just three leading issues that people expect good employers to have values around and embedded into their culture.
    The manufacturing and engineering sectors have the potential to become leading lights in these areas. With great examples up and down the country, it’s up to us an industry to make sure the young people of today are aware of this, and more companies get on board to support them.

With so much potential across the sector, 2.7 million high value jobs and contributing £192 billion to the UK economy, the industry is booming! Who wouldn’t want to work in it?!

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