The skills gap within UK manufacturing and engineering presents a significant challenge, hindering industry growth and innovation; with it being well reported that 1 in 5 current engineers are set to retire by 2026.
A vital strategy that business can deploy in closing the skill gap is engaging with schools in order to promote manufacturing and engineering and an industry of choice, and ultimately unlock the potential of young minds in shaping a sustainable and thriving economy.
Recently, Made in Group hosted October's Monthly Industry Meetup, where industry leaders gathered to share their experiences regarding a variety of important industry topics, including a designated group which discussed the challenges and potential solutions surrounding School Engagement & Closing the Skills Gap.
It was discussed within this roundtable that a key benefit of engaging with schools is the opportunity to reshape perceptions about the manufacturing and engineering sectors. The common misconceptions surrounding these fields can be a significant deterrent for potential talent.
By directly interacting with students and educators, companies can promote the message that working in manufacturing and engineering is not only rewarding but also offers diverse career paths. These industries are not the outdated, dull factories of yesteryears but are hubs of technological innovation, creativity, and promising careers.
Open Days to Inspire
Engagement with schools allows manufacturing and engineering companies to tap into the potential of the next generation. Students often have limited exposure to these industries, and showcasing their potential can ignite the spark of interest.
It was discussed within this roundtable that, by hosting open days, companies can give students a first-hand look at what they do, demystifying the working environment and allowing them to witness the excitement and innovation that occurs on the factory floor.
Open days and factory tours create a memorable experience for students, offering them a tangible understanding of the industry and the diverse roles within it. These experiences can be instrumental in encouraging young talent to consider careers in manufacturing and engineering.
The Role Marketing Can Play
An interesting theme discussed within this roundtable was the role that marketing and PR can play within a business, through promoting stories which champion manufacturing and engineering as an industry of choice.
Within this modern world, the next generation of workers will undoubtedly be interested in the digital footprint of potential employers, and therefore will look to the likes of their website, social media pages, and recent stories, before making a career decision which will define their future.
Therefore, the onus falls on the marketing departments of manufacturing and engineering companies to produce content, such as "day in the life" type articles and stories which highlight the progressive career paths that those within their company have gone on, in order to help in closing the skill gap.
In addition to tours and open days, interactive workshops and mentorship programs provide students with hands-on experience. By partnering with schools, manufacturing and engineering companies can offer workshops that allow students to explore practical skills. These experiences are invaluable in exposing students to the various aspects of the industry, from design and production to problem-solving and innovation.
Furthermore, mentorship programs connecting industry professionals with students can offer guidance, inspiration, and real-world insights. Such personal connections can go a long way in nurturing interest and talent in manufacturing and engineering.
Shared Responsibility in Addressing the Skills Gap
The engagement with schools is not just a feel-good exercise; it's a practical solution to closing the skills gap. As the existing workforce approaches retirement, the industry must actively cultivate new talent. Engaging with schools ensures a continuous pipeline of skilled workers who are ready to step into manufacturing and engineering roles.
Ultimately, encouraging young minds to explore the exciting and innovative world of manufacturing and engineering is a shared responsibility, one that, when embraced by industry leaders, paves the way for a brighter future.
Such conversations between industry leaders. are vital for engendering positive change and meaningful action with UK manufacturing and engineering. Discover more of our upcoming events below.