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UK manufacturing yet to convince Generation Z

A survey of over 2,000 16-23 year olds has revealed that just six per cent are contemplating a future in manufacturing, despite manufacturing jobs offering the skills development they are looking for.

The research conducted by Barclays Bank suggests that the manufacturing sector is failing to engage and inspire the next generation. The number is even lower among young women, with only three per cent interested in a manufacturing job. 

At the same time, more than half of British manufacturing businesses are finding it hard to recruit skilled workers, according to Barclays. Three in ten said their workforce lacked the technical skills they needed, and over a fifth lacked skills in advanced technology.

Interestingly, 23 per cent of the 16-23 year olds surveyed said they were considering careers in digital and technology, suggesting that young people are not aware of the extent to which manufacturing now exploits these technologies. 

By targeting young people more directly, for example through apprenticeships, graduate recruitment, education partnerships or social media marketing, Barclays estimates that UK manufacturing could boost its value by an extra £6 billion a year by 2023. 

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“Transforming outdated perceptions of manufacturing isn’t an easy feat, as stereotypes are hard to break, but the potential gains that come with a re-invigorated workforce and a new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.”


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