3 in 5 young people are unlikely to consider manufacturing careers

Posted on 17 Nov 2023 by The Manufacturer

Recent research has found that three in five young people are unlikely to consider a career in manufacturing and that 41% of manufacturers admit to doing 'absolutely nothing' to attract young people into the sector.

In light of this, leading springs and stampings manufacturer MSP are stressing the critical importance of attracting younger generations towards manufacturing careers, calling on manufacturers to prioritise strategies that actively recruit and open pathways for new talent.

Neil Matthews, Managing Director at MSP, said: “The manufacturing industry is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by advances in technology, sustainability and automation, as well as changing workforce dynamics. While this is creating new opportunities, it is also widening the skills gap and creating further barriers to entry.”

The latest findings from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that 69,000 vacancies were reported in the manufacturing sector in the previous quarter.

While this data reveals relative stability across this year, industry vacancies have not fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels and widespread labour and skills shortages continue to create significant challenges for the industry, as 66% of companies have reported difficulty finding specialised workers.

Neil continued: “In this evolving landscape, schools and colleges play a crucial role in shaping the manufacturing recruitment sector. Here are my three recommendations for manufacturers to consider to strategically attract, nurture and retain young talent to address the gap and secure the future of the industry.”

Increase entry opportunities

Practical experience is essential in manufacturing and poses a significant barrier to entry into the sector, which is why providing opportunities for students to engage with the industry first-hand will go a long way in generating understanding and interest in the field.

Offering industry internships, apprenticeships and on-site visits should be a priority for all manufacturers, as it is crucial for providing insight into modern manufacturing, and gives students the valuable opportunity to gain skills and knowledge that will improve their talent and employability.

Neil added: “Increasing entry opportunities should be at the top of the radar for all manufacturers, to break down barriers and provide accessible routes into a career in manufacturing. As we progress towards a more sustainable and digital industry, manufacturers should be increasing vital training and upskilling opportunities for existing and new talent.”

Improve career path guidance

Research reveals that almost half (48%) of students have never received information about a career in manufacturing, revealing a glaring gap in the knowledge and understanding of a career in the sector.

To bridge this gap, manufacturers need to be actively working with educators to equip them with the key industry knowledge to promote manufacturing as a viable career path. This includes providing insights into the diverse roles available within the sector, the skills and qualifications required, and the potential for career growth and progression.

Neil advised: “The manufacturing sector is a vital component of the UK economy, accounting for ten percent of the country’s economic output. Yet, this research suggests a concerning gap in understanding the value of a career in the industry.”

“It is crucial that we improve the visibility of career progression and inclusion within manufacturing, working closely with educators to challenge and redefine outdated perceptions. By producing resources aligned with students’ values, such as diversity and sustainability, we can inspire the next generation and contribute to the future of the industry.”

Establish industry partnerships

To strategically address recruitment challenges, it is essential that manufacturers establish and build partnerships with local schools, colleges and universities, offering students direct exposure to industry professionals and experts.

These partnerships facilitate mentorship, guidance and networking and provide accessible training opportunities, enhancing knowledge of career pathways.

Neil commented: “Partnering directly with educators and organisations creates access to manufacturing for students of all ages. At MSP, our engineers work closely with Primary Engineer, travelling to primary schools across the country to bring STEM to life within the classroom and create a buzz around engineering.

“With initiatives such as this, manufacturers can support the next generation and create well-rounded educational experiences for students which actively promote the value and worth of manufacturing.”

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