Why parents don’t want their children to work in manufacturing

Posted on 2 Oct 2018 by Jonny Williamson

A Shrewsbury manufacturing leader has responded to a piece recently published by The Manufacturer regarding the public’s alarming lack of awareness around British industry.

Manufacturing Myths - Infographic 3 - - image courtesy of The ManufacturerLast week, The Manufacturer published the results of a survey which showed that 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.

The original article can be found here.

When asked why, parents said that they did not want their child doing manual labour, they thought the sector was poorly paid, or they did not want their offspring working on a production line.

Christopher Greenough is commercial director at Salop Design & Engineering, and a member of The Manufacturer’s Editorial Advisory Board, responded:

Parents don’t want their children to work in manufacturing, because they don’t fully understand what manufacturing is, and how manufacturing has changed.

Manufacturing is no longer a dirty, manual role, it is more about Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things, advanced automation and technologically driven.

There are great opportunities for high-flying, free thinkers, to make real careers. And this strive to automation will not take jobs; in fact if we can become more productive, this push will create jobs.

Many people see manufacturing as a series of peaks and troughs, and indeed the mainstream media’s coverage of the Jaguar Land Rover ‘three-day working week’ announcement does nothing to ease this view.

Let’s remember there are always recessions in any economy, and because manufacturing is a key driver of the economy, it’s also the first to be hit by any downturn.

A lack of vision by government on diesel engines, and indecision with regards to Brexit, are making our economy unstable.

But, I have had almost 25 years in UK manufacturing, and it is an exciting and vibrant career.

Manufacturing Myths - Infographic 2 - - image courtesy of The ManufacturerEngineering is not seen as a career choice in this country, that can lead to a good wage and standard of living. But, if you look to Germany, engineers are highly regarded, in the same ways as a doctor or lawyer.

Engineering needs to be promoted more by schools and through policy from government.

Only by businesses engaging with schools, young people and parents, can we start to change the impression and indeed understanding of a UK manufacturing role.

Where are the role model engineers for youngsters to learn from and aspire to be?

This sector is at the forefront of innovation and excellence, and yet many of these innovations and outstanding design and process ideas go unnoticed.

We need to see the mainstream media reporting on good news, investments, and supporting UK manufacturing. There are lots of positives that are happening daily, that go unreported and overlooked.

British manufacturing is absolutely vital to our economy, and we need to be making more of our own goods to lessen the reliance on others post-Brexit.

Apprentices Comment - Christopher Greenough, commercial director, Salop Design & Engineering.

Christopher Greenough is commercial director at Salop Design & Engineering, and a member of The Manufacturer’s Editorial Advisory Board.

He has won numerous awards for outstanding leadership, particularly related to his work around encouraging the next generation to consider careers in manufacturing.