What does your child want to be when they are older? A ballerina? A vet, or perhaps a pilot?
How surprised would you be if they told you they wanted to build motorbikes, or design robots? Most children may not even realise that these jobs are available to them in later life – and this is part of the problem with the skills shortage within the manufacturing industry.
While 58% of parents want their child to be knowledgeable about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, only 20% of parents associate STEM education with the manufacturing industry.
The fallout of this is that manufacturing has not been the first choice for many young people over recent years. Manufacturing careers seem to be deemed less desirable in the UK than in other countries, and young people are not as actively encouraged to consider careers in this area.
Whilst UK manufacturing is working closely with the education sector and the Government to improve young people’s perception of engineering and manufacturing, and in raising the awareness of the opportunities on offer, there is certainly still more to be done.
Why should you encourage your children into manufacturing?
Manufacturing needs our young people – now and in the future! Like so many industries at the moment, manufacturing is seeing a skills gap, partly caused by the absence of young people in its ranks. The baby boomers are retiring, leaving huge gaps in the workforce.
As a parent, you of course want a colourful, ambitious and fruitful career for your children when they grow up. You may not automatically think of manufacturing. The truth is though, it’s a sector that is always surging with growth, with a strong economic outlook and wide availability of high paying jobs. There’s a constant stream of new technology, with the development of automation and cobots, so training and upskilling is a big focus. Many manufacturing companies run their own training programmes, offering endless opportunities.
Not only this, but the manufacturing industry is innovative and exciting. When your child grows up, they could be part of the team that develops the next supercar, the next spaceship, or groundbreaking future vaccines. They could be part of something tangible that really makes a difference.
How to educate your children about manufacturing
We live in an age of high-definition video games, social networking and iPads. It’s no wonder that manufacturing may not spark an awful lot of excitement in children and young people today. However, manufacturing isn’t about simply working monotonously on an assembly line – some of the technology that modern manufacturing companies use today is enough to amaze anyone. We simply need to make the next generation aware of that.
Maybe try out some hands-on manufacturing-based kids activities as part of your home-schooling routine. Try asking your children to make as many paper aeroplanes as they can. They all must be air-worthy to fly a designated distance. If they don’t, they don’t count towards the total. It encourages children to consider the best blueprint for producing the fastest aeroplanes that will reliably fly.
Similarly, you could work with your children to build cars out of lego or building bricks. Everyone involved has a different responsibility, from sourcing parts, building, engineering and quality assurance. The aim is to make solid, durable and nice-looking cars that the customer at the end of the line wants to buy.
Manufacturing today is an advanced, high-value industry that represents innovation and technology. The next generation needs to be made aware that a career in manufacturing can be exciting, stimulating and rewarding. If you think your child might have a knack for fixing things, tinkering and putting things together, then explore this skill and passion with them. You never know – they could grow up with a hunger to lead the way within the manufacturing industry.