North West youngsters rejecting careers in manufacturing

New research from Barclays Corporate Banking reveals just 6% of 16 to 23-year-olds in the region would consider a career in manufacturing. Tony McDonough reports

Just 6% of young people in the North West are keen on a career in manufacturing


North West manufacturers are facing a future skills crisis as a new survey shows only 6% of 16 to 23-year-olds want to work in the sector.

And the research, carried out by Barclays Corporate Banking, also revealed that 44% of people in this age group say that manufacturing does not appear to them while 30% don’t believe they possess the right skills.

Instead, young people in the North West aspire towards careers in digital, technology and media, with manufacturing ranking only 15th out of 19 potential career paths. One reason why young people are reluctant to take up a career in manufacturing, is that there are misconceptions around the skills that workers can develop.

Advanced technology

The survey showed that just 32% of young people in the North West believe a career in manufacturing will provide them with advanced technology skills. This is despite the fact that advanced technology is a key driver of growth for UK manufacturing companies.

And when asked about what they want from their future career, 42% of young people in the North West say that the opportunity to constantly build their skills is one of their top priorities.

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.  

Recruitment barrier

Many manufacturers recognise that there is a perception barrier to recruitment. 48% of the businesses surveyed in the North West admit that perceptions of careers in manufacturing have become worse over the past 20 years. 

Tony Walsh, head of north for Barclays Corporate Bank, said:Transforming outdated perceptions of manufacturing isn’t an easy feat, as stereotypes are hard to break, but the potential gains that come with a re-invigorated workforce and a new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 mis-match between perceptions of manufacturing and the reality of what a career in manufacturing can provide.

“The skills most desired by young people include decision-making, 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.

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