Headline sponsor, Barclays Bank, takes a look at their recent study into the image of manufacturing and how initiatives like Bradford Manufacturing Weeks can help.
At the end of last year, we published our latest study – A new image for Manufacturing –, which surveyed 2,000 16-23 year olds (‘Gen Z’) to understand how perceptions of manufacturing have changed, and 500 manufacturing decision-makers to reveal the strategies businesses have implemented to recruit and upskill employees.
It makes for rather sombre reading. Just 6% of young people are considering a career in industry, with almost half (47%) stating this is because the career doesn’t appeal to them, or they don’t believe they have the skills required (35%) for the role.
The 6% is further reduced in female applicants, with only 3% of young women contemplating a career in manufacturing, compared to 9% of young men.
Our study found that only a third (33%) of young people believe a career in manufacturing would provide them with advanced technology skills, despite advanced technology being a key growth driver for almost all UK manufacturers.
Although a career in industry could fulfil their future job aspirations young people, remain seemingly unaware of the opportunities that the sector provides.
This is particularly disappointing because the UK is a world-leader in the field of technology-driven innovation – something we clearly need to get far better at promoting.
According to our study, young people aspire towards careers in digital, technology and IT as they believe these sectors allow them to attain the skills they most desire – i.e. decision-making skills, social skills, resource management skills, complex problem-solving skills and technical/digital skills.
There is a potential positive here. The skills and attributes young people seek in their career choices – opportunities to progress, good earnings, a chance to make a difference to society – might lead them naturally to manufacturing, if only they were aware.
Generating that awareness will be one of the true tests of 2019 and beyond. This is one of the key reasons we are so keen to support the second annual Bradford Manufacturing Week. Education will start to be seen as a critical supplier to manufacturing businesses and it is vital that manufacturers in our area look to work closer with the “supply chain”. Of course, many manufacturers have already adopted various strategies, including launching apprenticeship and graduate schemes, forging partnerships with local education providers and promoting their business via social media. At the same time, however, many have not and if we are ever to change the misconception that school leavers of the future have about the incredible opportunities a career in manufacturing offers, we need to start to address those challenges now.