The public views manufacturing as critical to the future of the UK economy and yet less than 20% of parents would encourage their children to work in the sector.
A recent poll of more than 2,000 UK adults underscored how important people consider ‘making things’ to be post-Brexit; however, it also highlighted the huge misconceptions held about the pay and opportunities a career in manufacturing offers.
There is an alarming lack of awareness regarding Britain’s international standing, with many believing the UK to be ranked 56th in the world in terms of value of products made.
In reality, the UK hasn’t been out of the top 10 performing manufacturing countries around the globe for the past decade and is currently sat at ninth in the world – 56th is currently held by Kazakhstan.
More positively, almost three quarters of people (70%) agree that the UK cannot tackle future problems without a strong manufacturing sector, and 88% think it is important for the UK to have a strong industry.
When further probed, 69% believe that when the UK leaves the EU, manufacturing is important to secure our place in the global economy; while 61% felt that a strong manufacturing base was important to secure long-term employment for future generations.
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According to EEF and Womble Bond Dickinson, who released the findings, this strong public backing for the importance of manufacturing has significant implications for the direction of policy, with government urged to invest more in the sector.
Four in five people (79%) believe that the government should place more value on manufacturing and half (49%) that more should be spent on training the next generation of manufacturers.
However, despite placing a high value on the role of manufacturing only a fifth (19%) of parents of children aged 18 and under would encourage their children to work in the sector.
When those who said they were unlikely to do so were asked why, a third (31%) of parents thought the sector was poorly paid, while over a quarter (27%) said they do not want their offspring working on a production line.
In addition, almost one fifth (18%) said they did not want their child doing manual labour, a factor which has huge implications at a time when apprenticeships and technical skills are so critical.
Of those who said they would encourage their child to work in the sector, nearly a quarter of those thinking about a son said they would (24%) compared to just 14% of those who were thinking about a daughter.
One of the reasons for the gender divide that were given were that the industry is too male dominated and that they would want their daughter to do something more “professional”.
Average earnings in manufacturing exceed significantly average earnings in the whole of the UK economy and services, but just 17% of the public are aware of this and the financial opportunities opting for a career in manufacturing could bring.