Just 2 per cent of young peo­ple want a ca­reer in man­u­fac­tur­ing

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

York­shire man­u­fac­tur­ing has been a cor­ner­stone of the re­gion’s economy for cen­turies and still ac­counts for around 13 per cent of the county’s economy.

How­ever, the prospects for its fu­ture sta­bil­ity have been thrown into doubt with the pub­li­ca­tion of re­search show­ing a pal­try two per cent of 16 to 23-year-olds are con­sid­er­ing a ca­reer in the sec­tor.

The re­search from Bar­clays Cor­po­rate Bank­ing shows that 46 per cent of mem­bers of so-called Gen­er­a­tion Z felt man­u­fac­tur­ing was a ca­reer path which did not ap­peal to them, while 30 per cent said they did not be­lieve they have the skills re­quired.

In­stead, young peo­ple in York­shire as­pire to­wards ca­reers in dig­i­tal, tech­nol­ogy and ed­u­ca­tion, with man­u­fac­tur­ing rank­ing last out of 19 po­ten­tial ca­reer paths.

The re­search also un­cov­ered a num­ber of mis­con­cep­tions about man­u­fac­tur­ing among young peo­ple.

Just 30 per cent of young peo­ple in York­shire be­lieve a ca­reer in man­u­fac­tur­ing will pro­vide them with ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy skills.

Fur­ther­more, when asked about what they want from their fu­ture ca­reer, 41 per cent said that they wanted the op­por­tu­nity to con­stantly build their skills and that man­u­fac­tur­ing could not de­liver this.

Debbie Mullen, in­set, head of larger cor­po­rate at Bar­clays in York­shire, said: “Trans­form­ing out­dated per­cep­tions of man­u­fac­tur­ing isn’t an easy feat, as stereo­types are hard to break, but the po­ten­tial gains that come with a re-in­vig­o­rated work­force and a new wave of tal­ent in the in­dus­try, of­fer a tan­gi­ble re­turn on this in­vest­ment.

“It is clear that there is a mis­match be­tween per­cep­tions of man­u­fac­tur­ing and the re­al­ity of what a ca­reer in man­u­fac­tur­ing can pro­vide. The skills most de­sired by young peo­ple in­clude de­ci­sion­mak­ing, com­plex prob­lem-solv­ing and tech­ni­cal skills but th­ese match the skills that man­u­fac­tur­ers say em­ploy­ees gain from work­ing in the in­dus­try and highlights the need for busi­nesses to en­gage and in­spire the younger gen­er­a­tion.

“Rais­ing a gen­er­a­tion from early years to grad­u­a­tion is a 20-year process. In or­der to have an im­pact by 2050, man­u­fac­tur­ers need to find ways to ed­u­cate and sup­port the next gen­er­a­tion now, or face an­other 20 years or so grap­pling against th­ese skills chal­lenges. “One so­lu­tion to this is to fo­cus on ap­peal­ing to women as well as men as it’s clear that there is cur­rently a huge gen­der gap in per­cep­tions of the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try.”

The new Bar­clays Cor­po­rate Bank­ing Man­u­fac­tur­ing re­port, A New Im­age for Man­u­fac­tur­ing, sur­veyed 2,000 16-23 year-olds to un­der­stand how per­cep­tions of man­u­fac­tur­ing have changed, and 500 man­u­fac­tur­ing de­ci­sion mak­ers to re­veal what busi­nesses have been do­ing to re­cruit new em­ploy­ees, and up­skill their ex­ist­ing work­force to use new tech­nolo­gies.

Thirty five per cent of the busi­nesses sur­veyed in York­shire ad­mit that the per­cep­tion of man­u­fac­tur­ing has be­come worse over the past 20 years. In par­tic­u­lar, the re­search re­veals that in­dus­try is strug­gling to at­tract a di­verse work­force, with just three per cent of young women in Bri­tain stat­ing they would con­tem­plate a ca­reer in man­u­fac­tur­ing, com­pared to nine per cent of young men.

Ac­cord­ing to the OECD, women in G20 coun­tries ac­count for only one in four univer­sity grad­u­ates in the STEM based sub­jects of science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and maths.

Against this back­drop, more than half of York­shire man­u­fac­tur­ers are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to re­cruit.

One so­lu­tion is to fo­cus on ap­peal­ing to women as well as men.

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