How can we get more young people into Manufacturing?

As we get poised for the future and the 4th Industrial Revolution (IR4.0), we turn to our youth to carry the flag and to take the reins of innovation and technology, and this is especially the case when it comes to manufacturing. We have a real struggle in general to find skilled workers, with an EEF report suggesting that over three-quarters of manufacturing companies have found it really difficult to recruit in the last three years.

This aside, there are quite simply just not enough children choosing engineering careers.

Why is this happening?
Let’s face it, can the manufacturing industry compete with the gaming industry or becoming a “Youtuber” or a famous Vlogger? Probably not, but all children have big dreams and aspirations and not everyone follows them but manufacturers just aren’t doing enough to sell themselves. The message isn’t getting through to the young people and the image of blue, dirty overalls still exists.

Nothing sounds more boring than a Chemical Engineer or an Agricultural Engineer but jobs out there can be interesting. Tomorrow’s Engineers shows some of the jobs that the younger generation can take on. How about designing state-of-the-art Artificial football pitches or working for Rolls Royce designing and manufacturing the engines that go in to the aeroplanes?

Manufacturing may not be ‘sexy’ but it can be intriguing, exciting and rewarding.


What can be done?
STEM Skills:
The answer often given is we need to “teach them early in school” but teachers, and in fact, manufacturers often lack the resources to adequately teach STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths);

Government Funding:
In November 2017, the Government identified this and launched its Industrial Strategy, and within the 5 foundations to make “Britain fit for the future” was a pledge for a funding boost of £406 million for these skills;

According to the Annual Manufacturing Report, shows that 63% of UK CEO’s are either using or planning to use apprenticeships and internships to grow their workforce while developing the skills they need;

Manufacturing companies can also engage more with schools, colleges and universities to excite and encourage young people to join the industry. The skills requirements should be detailed and explained so that the educational journey can be tailored to meet the needs;

Modernised Communication
We need to “get down with the kids” and engage with them via Social Media platforms and channels, open days and exhibitions to show how innovative and exciting the industry can be;

Funding Employee Training:
Companies need to consider investment in offering training and development to their employees to give clear career progression. Young talent will be attracted and retained;