less than 10% of 16-23 year-olds considering a career in manufacturing

Greater Birminmgham Chamber of Commerce today stated that only eight per cent of 16 to 23-year-olds in the West Midlands are considering a career in manufacturing. According to research from Barclays Corporate Banking, 51 per cent of the age group known as Generation Z state this is because the career path does not appeal to them.  Furthermore, 56 per cent do not believe they have the skills required for the role.


Instead, young people in the West Midlands aspire towards careers in digital, technology, IT and Education, with manufacturing ranking only 14th 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. The Barclays report says 41 per cent of young people in the West Midlands 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. When asked about what they want from their future career, 43 per cent say that the opportunity to constantly build their skills is one of their top priorities.

The Barclays Corporate Banking Manufacturing report, ‘A New Image for Manufacturing’, surveyed 2,000 16 to 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.  Ray O’Donoghue, Managing Director at Barclays in the Midlands, said: “Transforming outdated perceptions of manufacturing isn’t an easy feat, as stereotypes are hard to break, but the potential gains that come with a re-invigorated workforce and a new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.

“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.”