News & Views

Education programme needed to equip next generation

A big programme of education is required to raise awareness of manufacturing and equip a new generation of young people to make the most of the opportunities. 

These are among the conclusions of a new study on the role of modern production industries released by the Ditchley Foundation, a UK-based discussion group focusing on key international issues. 

"Teachers, academics and parents are inadvertently turning young people away from fulfilling and lucrative careers by their lack of understanding of modern manufacturing," the study says. 

"We need to communicate a broader view of manufacturing as a significant ecosystem with manufacturing jobs at the core and therefore critical to any vibrant economy." 

Ditchley's report also says: "There are many success stories in manufacturing. More needs to be done to promote these. Manufacturing needs to win back some of the kudos that Silicon Valley has monopolised in the public imagination... Manufacturing is the ultimate integrator of technology.  It is where the future lies and we should celebrate its vibrancy." 

Made Here Now is happy to endorse the contents of the study which is based on the work of a group of international experts on manufacturing which met at the end of 2016. 

Peter Marsh, founder of Made Here Now, acted as the rapporteur (main reporter) of this group. The study itself was written by James Arroyo, Ditchley's director. 

Other conclusions include:

  • There is a public conception that manufacturing is in terminal decline in western societies. This is not the case as manufacturing remains the backbone of a modern economy, even if the numbers of directly employed people are lower.  
  • A number of maturing technologies are likely to come together in manufacturing in the next few years to drive continued evolution. This will mean more automation. 
  • Rather than an absolute lack of jobs, the problem is more likely to be a mismatch between the new high-level jobs that emerge and the skills and adaptability of the people who used to work in other roles that are no longer viable.  
  • Problem solving skills, technological awareness and adaptability will be more important than any specific skills sets such as computer coding in a particular language. 
  • There is a need for better measurement and understanding of the role of manufacturing in the economy. We need to measure accurately and analyze that data before drawing conclusions.  

The full report can be read here