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A Career in Manufacturing? Yes please..

When young people are contemplating their future careers, manufacturing and engineering may not automatically strike as the industry of choice! Images of high viz vests and ear protectors simply don’t conjure the same feeling of excitement as glitzy offices and after work drinks, but it really is time to think again!

Career in manufacturing

The industry as a whole is investing in new technology and improving their businesses holistically. UK Manufacturing/Engineering is currently the 8th largest in the World with the average annual salary tipping in at £32.5k (the national average being £29k). Moreover, a great many SME businesses have caught the eye of PE houses and other investors giving them a much-needed cash injection and the benefit of expert industry knowledge.

Over recent years the investment of new technology really has given the industry a boost. From robotics, the use of laser technology and of course the 4IR. The way in which products are manufactured is increasingly being driven by technology and therefore requires talented and highly skilled talent, so why is there still a shortage of interested parties out there? We can’t blame it all on the “appeal” of the industry. So, let’s start with school? In speaking to peers with children 15/16 years of age, the lack of direction in general from a careers perspective (not that I am getting into that debate) within schools is severely lacking and I would hazard an educated guess that a career in Manufacturing won’t be given the advertising it should be. After all it’s all about marketing? Let’s get into these kids psyche at a young age! 

Interestingly the UK Government has launched “ The Year of Engineering” for 2018 an initiative that highlights the opportunities within the industry with a particular focus on the next generation. Given the current skills gap within the sector this is an opportune time to drive awareness of the sector and the opportunities within it, to really challenge the perceptions of the industry.  At a regional level, many Local Authorities are working with businesses in their area to promote opportunities in secondary schools and earlier in the year The Leeds Manufacturing Alliance launched the first ever Leeds Manufacturing Festival.  Apprenticeships are also vital to train talent and an estimated 63% of UK CEO’s have used or plan to use apprenticeships to grow and develop the skills they need. In fact, a recent MD in my network confirmed his business has had huge success with this scheme with a great many of these individuals now in management roles with attractive salaries and benefits!

These initiatives certainly come as welcome news to an industry where the average age of skilled workers continues to rise, but will they be enough and what other schemes can Government and Industry implement to ensure Manufacturing and Engineering has a healthy future? I welcome your thoughts…

Karen Wightman is a Senior Consultant of Manufacturing & Engineering at Interim Partners.

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