Let us hope that what we have now is the low point

Yorkshire Post - Business - - BUSINESS / NEWS - Mark Casci BUSI­NESS EDI­TOR @york­shire­post

Imag­ine if you found out that just two out of ev­ery 100 young peo­ple was in­ter­ested in work­ing in your sec­tor.

That is the grim re­al­ity fac­ing York­shire’s man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try, ac­cord­ing to a Bar­clays re­port.

While dig­i­tal, tech­nol­ogy and ed­u­ca­tional ca­reers re­main the most pop­u­lar op­tion among young peo­ple, a sec­tor which en­com­passes all three of th­ese ar­eas is in­creas­ingly find­ing it­self out of favour.

It is clear from the re­search, and the ex­pe­ri­ences that so many em­ploy­ers are fac­ing when it comes to re­cruit­ing into the sec­tor, that there is a mas­sive dis­con­nect be­tween the re­al­ity of man­u­fac­tur­ing and its im­age. Mod­ern me­dia does not help. Turn on any drama se­ries or film and the cool and smart young peo­ple are all adorned in smart suits, work­ing in le­gal of­fices or lab­o­ra­to­ries.

High vis­i­bil­ity jack­ets on ev­ery sin­gle vis­it­ing dig­ni­tary to ev­ery sin­gle fac­tory in the broad­cast news do not help either.

It gives the mes­sage to young peo­ple that the sec­tor is un­fash­ion­able and dan­ger­ous, and that com­ing within 100 me­tres of any piece of ma­chin­ery or equip­ment needs this gar­ish vest and hard hat to pro­tect you from cer­tain death.

There is some good work in this re­gion to try and ad­dress this im­bal­ance.

One need only look at the fine work car­ried out by Nick Garth­waite dur­ing his time as Brad­ford Cham­ber of Com­merce’s pres­i­dent to link the city’s man­u­fac­tur­ers with school-age chil­dren.

His Brad­ford Man­u­fac­tur­ing Week linked thou­sands of young peo­ple with the sec­tor. A sim­i­lar ini­tia­tive was staged in Leeds to much aplomb.

In South York­shire two house­hold names set up shop in the shape of McLaren and Boe­ing.

Hope­fully th­ese oc­cur­rences will start to give our young peo­ple a truer pic­ture of what life in the in­dus­try is ac­tu­ally like.

Rather than a life of yel­low vested ser­vice to a ma­chine, you have the chance to work across a range of in­dus­tries which are ground-break­ing, in­no­va­tive and fit for the fu­ture.

Here’s hop­ing th­ese glum sta­tis­tics are as bad as it gets.

Speak­ing of as bad as it gets, the farce with our na­tion’s trad­ing re­la­tion­ship with the world hit a new low this week.

Af­ter more than two years of prom­ises, plat­i­tudes, talks and res­ig­na­tions, Theresa May’s deal seems to have pretty much zero chance of get­ting through the House of Com­mons on Tues­day.

In a de­bate which has been dom­i­nated by ide­ol­ogy and mis­in­for­ma­tion, it will be al­most a cer­tainty that the fore­casts from the CBI to­day that, were the house to back Mrs May’s deal, that the economy should grow by 1.4 per cent next year and 1.6 per cent in 2020.

Let’s be clear what that means. It means the economy will con­tinue to have growth that is weak, but growth none­the­less. By way of com­par­i­son, in 2010 – as the world emerged stag­ger­ing from the fi­nan­cial cri­sis – we grew at 1.7 per cent.

Just four years ago, GDP was 3.1 per cent. Last year it was 1.8 per cent.

You might won­der why any­one would be back­ing a deal that de­liv­ered anaemic eco­nomic growth such as this and you would be right,

The growth fore­casts are not good by any stretch, but they are in­fin­itely bet­ter than those pre­dicted if we fail to reach a deal. The UK only trades with 24 coun­tries un­der WTO rules and even those have spe­cial agree­ments in place. The 68 oth­ers are all as a re­sult of be­ing part of the EU.

I have lit­tle time for a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum, as I have out­lined in this pages on sev­eral pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions. This is­sue is tear­ing our coun­try apart. The last ref­er­en­dum saw a po­lit­i­cal as­sas­si­na­tion by a far right ex­trem­ist. A fur­ther putting of this to the pub­lic would, I fear, de­liver far worse con­se­quences for our so­cial fab­ric.

How­ever, with so lit­tle sup­port in the Com­mons, and so many di­ver­gent view­points, it seems clear that a fur­ther pe­riod in limbo draws nearer and that the de­bate over Brexit will con­tinue to­mor­row, to­mor­row and to­mor­row, in this petty pace.

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