New research from Barclays Corporate Banking shows that only 6% of Generation Z (16-23 year-olds) are considering a career in manufacturing.
The Barclays Corporate Banking Manufacturing report, ‘A New Image for Manufacturing’, which surveyed 2,000 16-23 year-olds found almost half (47%) state this is because the career path does not appeal to them, or they do not believe they have the skills required (35%) for the role.
Instead, young people aspire towards careers in digital, technology and IT, with manufacturing ranking only 17th out of 19 potential career paths. Barclays found that young people are reluctant to take up a career in manufacturing due to “misconceptions” around the skills that workers can develop: only one third (33%) of young people 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.
Almost two-fifths (39%) of the businesses surveyed admit that perceptions of careers in manufacturing have become worse over the past 20 years. In particular, the research revealed the industry is struggling to attract a diverse workforce, with just 3% of young women stating they would contemplate a career in manufacturing, compared to 9% of young men.
Helena Sans, head of manufacturing at Barclays, said: “Transforming outdated perceptions of manufacturing isn’t an easy feat, as stereotypes are hard to break, but the potential gains that come with a re-invigorated workforce and a new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.
“Our research reveals 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 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.”
She added: “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 influence the next generation now or face another 20 years or so grappling against these skills challenges. One solution 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.”