Seeking the future manufacturers of Britain

That’s the topic we’ve caught in the Made in Britain Twitter net: 29 July 2021.

EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #MadeinBritainHour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 21,000 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the responses have been edited but most have been left in their casual Twitter style.

This week we discuss where the future manufacturers of Britain will come from.

Question one How do we help the next generations of Britain to become interested in manufacturing?

Response: By introducing them to the opportunities available within manufacturing. Ultimately, it starts with awareness! We create educational #Springtelligence blogs and videos to encourage the next generation to take an interest in manufacturing

Made in Britain: Do you know what age group reads your blogs? or watches your videos? They are very good to watch I have to say its just a question of getting to the younger generation?

Response: Not precisely no, potentially it is the older age groups. However, more recently we have become much more active on social channels, such as this, in order for our learning materials to reach and benefit a wider and more diverse audience! Thank you!

Response: Contact local schools career advisers and ask them to notify the classes and teachers. Send influencers or role models into the schools to present to the kids. Most do not know where things come from and are not aware of manufacturing

Response: Also, our director + sales director are STEM ambassadors - presenting talks and (pre-Covid) hosting local schools at our purpose-built facility to show them what is involved and the possibilities available to them! It’s a great way of introducing them to the idea of entering STEM

Made in Britain: Do you find the schools approach you or do you invite the schools? Do share some pictures of your purpose-built facility? it may help/inspire others

Response: It’s a healthy balance of both! We’re very involved in our local community, and as a result the schools in our area are aware of our work and this can prompt them approaching us. Equally, if we see a chance to provide a school with insight into our work we offer it to them!

Made in Britain: Do you take placement students/work experience? Understanding the support functions that a manufacturer needs is also something vitally important - again something that is not always fully thought about by children

Response: Yes, we do regularly take on apprentices and many we have taken on in the past are now employees here. It’s a great way to give them an insight into what is available to them and provides them with key skills which aren’t necessarily taught in school.

Response: It’s so important to get the next generations curious about how things are made and how they operate. Our blogs and videos help to educate those already involved in engineering and inspire those who may not yet have considered it as a career path

Response: Not my area of expertise but I guess it would involve engaging with those in education to showcase the options and opportunities available to them

Made in Britain: How many people in education actually understand manufacturing or even know what is made locally? is it the job of the local manufacturers to be knocking on school doors? 

Response: Firstly I would say not many and secondly yes, if the industry is to be sustainable then they should take responsibility for engagement whether directly or via a representative body

Made in Britain: It is a difficult one. When I was at school I had no idea what manufacturing was really. As @NigelTPacker said it is not just about production lines

Response: Same for me. This just shows that there is a clear opportunity being missed.

Response: I'd say manufacturing is not alone in this - careers advice was virtually non-existent when I was at school. Perhaps there is an opportunity for manufacturing to partner with other sectors to really get the message across in an engaging way.

Response: Totally agree on that. Who does it come down to? do businesses only engage when they can't find resource?

Response: It should be built into their business plan really in terms of succession and marketing. Is this not a common practice? Something to think about...

Response: It's a tricky one - it's one of those classic problems that would massively benefit both sides but someone needs to take the initiative. I think it comes down to prioritisation and a longer-term view, but is it the school? government? industry bodies?

Response: It's more than that too. Sometimes it is not just manufacturing that needs skills and resource but it is mending and maintaining. Look at all the steam trains Made in Britain and the ones still running on preserved railways. They need parts making.

Response: One of the few thigs that I can compliment the Welsh Assembly on is their Role Model program @BigIdeasWales. It is essentially an entrepreneurial program and inspires career ideas. I have been a Role Model for 20 years and visited hundreds of schools

Response: Start early. Provide influencers to go to schools to talk to kids about working in Manufacturing. There are far more jobs then standing on a production line. Design, innovation and process development to name a few. I have been doing it for 20 years

Response: 100%

Made in Britain: Like the term "influencers" - how do we go about creating these/accessing them?

Response: It is a word that is understood by many so works well for this type of program. Charismatic and passionate manufacturers to talk about the benefits of manufacturing.

Made in Britain: There is also the opportunity to get the kids to do something too, whether it be design, build or even dismantle. If it just stimulates one child in a class of 30 to learn more that is a huge step forward?

Response: Many kids have not seen inside the digital gadgets they use every day. I have seen surprise and interest when I have taken dismantled iPads into many schools. I explain where each part comes from and what is involved in the creation and making of them

Response: always love it when you open up an old desktop pc and find there is hardly anything in it. Then start taking it to bits - fan, hard drive - 'what does that do Dad' are the best words.

Response: I was always taking things apart when I was a small boy. They didn't always work when reassembled but I did learn a lot about what made them work. I have two books called "How things work". The pages are well thumbed. 

Response: Continuing to promote Best of British - British goods are usually seen as high quality worldwide. Educate not to compete on lowest price and but to focus on quality of products and materials

Made in Britain: There is an interesting point there about price. Most children probably think all furniture comes from IKEA, clothes from Primark etc and don't see the wider picture (because of price)

Response: Awareness of manufacturing and the supply chain will reveal thousands of career opportunities that most school kids are not aware of. 

Made in Britain: I do think there should be part of the curriculum that explains this to children. It is something that opens a lot of eyes and options.

Response: Have open days, internship and apprentices. Introduce them and develop pride in the manufacturing process.

Response: Maybe also educate about manufacturing, assembly, supply chains as well?

Response: Definitely - so many people do not understand or visualise the supply chain

Made in Britain: That in itself creates more subjects - raw materials and the conditions they are 'mined' in through to sustainability and the environment. Could spend a school year on all of this

Response: We have built a good relationship with our local colleges to encourage and welcome apprenticeships in fabrication & welding. Also, word of mouth between colleagues and from our existing apprenticeships is a good way of spreading the word about starting a career in manufacturing

Made in Britain: Thats a great way to keep a steady supply of resource. Do the apprentices stay with you for quite some time after qualifying?

Response: Overall yes, it's natural to lose a couple along the way, but we are proud that our longest employed apprentice has been with us more than 20 years and has worked his way up through the business and is now our Production Manager, running the entire factory.

Response: The earlier youngsters are introduced to manufacturing the better. It isn’t a “dirty” job anymore. Most manufacturers are quiet modern now and computerised. It’s whether youngsters like the “nice” side of manufacturing

Response: Raise awareness in schools and teach students that their future doesn't have to include plans to attend university. Make them aware of their (immediate) environment and point out that most of it has been manufactured. Host open days & project competitions. 

Made in Britain: That's a good point, and sometimes it can be extended to find out where it was "manufactured" - so that could be a geography lesson too? It's a cross curriculum exercise in reality?

Response: Yes totally. Take the chair they sit on, the steel for the legs/frame, the plastic for the seat, how they were formed, welded together, shaped, coloured, transported.

Response: Where the raw materials came from and how, this would probably also spark interest in recycling/repairing etc.

Response: The key organisations responsible for & working hard to get career & job information into schools & colleges thro' engagement with business. (@CareerEnt & @NYBEP) They find it hard. A manufacturer reaching out will be welcomed by open arms (& doors!)

Response: Stop talking to them about jobs & careers. And start telling them about the excitement, fun, fulfilment, camaraderie, travel, creativity, life experience, ... that can be gained by joining you all.

Made in Britain: Absolutely, and tell them it is ok to enjoy your working life too

Response: Most definitely. You have to enjoy your work, otherwise there is no point

Response: We offer college packs for electrical training centres and often send samples, demo blocks, posters etc. but these packs are geared to students already enrolled in the course. Can't say we have much experience with younger people.

Made in Britain: Some products just don't lend themselves to really young kids. If they don't understand what it does it is hard to inspire

Response: We need to educate the parents and teachers first and foremost. Invariably it's their perceptions that put the stops on the next generation moving into an absolutely transformational sector. The technological advances in the manufacturing sector are mind blowing to say the least!

Question two: How do businesses use factory visits for both promotion and also to engage the younger generation to want to learn the specialist skills?

Response: There is always a positive, seeing how products are manufactured, We always welcome our local Schools to help educate the pupils on the benefits of Plastic and where the colour used is manufactured, educational for pupils and Teachers alike

Response: Try to make it all relatable and enjoyable for them. I have spoken to my eldest (15 years old) and pointed out all the things around our home/his bedroom that are manufactured and the probable processes that had to take place from initial design, R&D, tooling, costing etc.

Response: Theres something fascinating about how products are manufactured / assembled. Factory tours done by passionate , knowledgeable staff can also offer an insight to the culture of the organisation and not just the products manufactured

Response: If students can see an exciting link between what they are learning & how it inputs into skills, we will create a natural curiosity that will draw them in. We need to engage their minds and hearts and get them to see themselves in those roles - site visits are ideal for this.

Response: I became an Enterprise Advisor for @FocusSB which means we work closely with local schools to encourage visits. Yes H&S hoops need to be jumped through but not a major issue. We find that the pupils go away with a much better understanding of manufacturing. We also encourage customer visits here because we do everything under one roof and we manufacture a high end product. Customers have a much better appreciation of the work involved in delivering a luxury brand!

Response: When we have done factory visits for Schools in the past, the passion that the person showing how it all works has been the most important part of the visit. We have given little packs to take away as well.

Made in Britain: The take-away at the end can be all important, especially if it is something they have seen made. There are limits of course but then there are models.

Response: A great example are the airlines, and their open days. They used to give great sets to kids. The day itself would be a full day out with great experiences and simulation...

Response: Yes, we normally make note books to take away and they are very much appreciated

Response: This is a phase 2 effort from manufacturers to invite pupils to visit the factory to see "How it is made" presentations. Hurdles include H&S and School curriculum. A way around these hurdles could be developed. 

Made in Britain: Factory visits are great. Have you visited @DartingtonUK and watched the glass blowers at work - that really is something that children learn from.

Response: Love this stuff!!! It's a fab way to engage the young and any industry can benefit.

Response: Not that glass blowing company though I have worked with local glass blowers who have set up shop in Swansea after attending the Glass blowing degree courses here. Top Glass blowing degree in UK. 

Response: Yes incredible isn't it? That's in our neck of the woods!

Response: Our history and ethos is built on the handmade nature of our products. We remain very proud of this and by opening up our factory we are able to celebrate the skills needed to create our products.

Made in Britain: Have to say it is a great experience, the skill level of the glass blowers is outstanding, really great that you open it up (and for free) for people to see

Response: Appeal to people's sense of curiosity for both promotion & engaging with a younger audience. I've always loved visiting production lines as both a youngster & now in business. By sharing the story & methods (but not secrets) you enable people to become emotionally invested.

Made in Britain: Great word curiosity. Some people deal in 'facts' too - something like a car rolls off the production line every 2 minutes, or this takes x years to make.

Response: even "non sexy" sectors can take advantage of factory tours. Having worked for Shell I was fascinated by visiting the refinery in spite of knowing that it would be oil products being made.

Response: Pre Covid-19 we actively invited clients & potential clients to take a tour of our 20,000 sqft facilities, & meet our team. We offered an informal (light breakfast/lunch/refreshments) with a presentation demonstrating our rigorous processes, policies, & ISO9001 standards

Made in Britain: Was it well received and what was the uptake like?

Response: It was (is) always well received, depending on the client's location in the UK/Globally. We have secured large contracts based on the fact that we offer a tour of our facilities & they could see our processes. Via YouTube, we can showcase our business to international clients.

Made in Britain: That's really impressive to know that you've secured contracts based on that. Maybe that's something others can learn from?

Question three: How can British manufacturers make their factories and facilities less anonymous and connect more with their local communities, schools etc?

Response: Local product donations too for events, or residents in their area that may put up with extra traffic etc e.g Alton Towers

Response: I know of initiatives where role models across industries are featured. They talk about the route to their careers and engage with the younger generation through schools, sometimes as mentors, sometimes as stories that inspire. I am sure @MadeinBritainGB can do something similar.

Response: Connecting with local shops, communities, Schools etc. We had the Print College that would bring over students to visit as well.

Response: Take action - simple as that! Task someone to reach out to those they want to engage with. Have conversations. If those businesses want to know how or want someone to do it for them then give me a call and I can empower them to do exactly that!

Response: Most factories employ relatively local people, so holding staff / family days. Inviting local schools and colleges for tours. Sponsoring apprenticeships; community activities and events. All this can form part of a Corporate Social Responsibility policy, promoting positive PR

Response: Factories can also be more visible in their communities and demonstrate that they are CSR focussed, showcasing their green policies and cultures. There are many fun ways to engage and involve school, other businesses and the wider community. Great PR as @Addmaster  said.

Made in Britain: Sponsorship is a good one even if it is the local U10s team. It is surprising how many manufacturers are 'anonymous' locally

Response: Supporting a charity too

Response: Our factory is private to protect our IP and processes, however, our staff and directors are active in their local community and have organised the Lenzie Gala and other fundraising activities.

Response: This is something between HR and Marketing. The drive to get new employees will increase with so much competition. Manufacturing has had a low profile since the 80's with offshoring. Gov involvement for benefits to GDP export and tax.

Response: As has already been said, focusing on local staff members who have a passion for their craft, create a Q&A kind of video interview, visit local schools, sponsor local events, make local donations. We raised our profile when donating free face visors to local schools recently.

Made in Britain: Do you find that your staff members want to get involved?

Response: Some of them do yes, we are lucky in that we have a passionate team here. They enjoy sharing their passion and knowledge and if it sparks an interest/passion in the younger generations then thats fantastic.

Response: It's not rocket science (but could be another of your trick Q's!): get out into their local communities & schools; invite people from those places into the factory. Join in &/or create local community projects. Make contact with lone dwellers locally... etc

Question four: How many children and young people know what is made in Britain and what is made in their local community?

Response: That is a question to ponder...I think they probably figure out the retail store does it all...or Father Christmas depending on seasonality and age! This is like asking them where meat comes from.... if they see it being made, then they would have a different opinion.

Response: Children and young people don’t know as much as they should know, about what is actually Made In Britain. Perhaps we need to promote #MadeInBritain to Schools, Colleges and local communities.

Made in Britain: I think that is a very valid point. Also about the history of what was invented in Britain and how things developed.

Response: Definitely. did you see my comment about featuring role models and career paths...

Made in Britain: There is also the difference between career path and educational/academic path - wonder how many inventors we missed because the careers advisor thought they should be a maths teacher? 

Response: So true

Response: When I ask the question "What do you want as a career?" in schools I visit. 60% don't know, others want to join the police, army or NHS. These organisations send speakers into the schools. Manufacturing should be there too

Response: On our 30:30 free careers programme for schools we take 30 businesses into a school to talk about careers in their industries , 2k students so far have done the programme

Response: Paul, this is a great programme. how long has it been running?

Response: We launched at end of 2015 , slow uptake to start with , but quickly took off until pandemic hit . We have 5 schools signed up to take part from September onwards

Response: The @BigIdeasWales programme was started in 2001. A great success. The results have taken a few years. At networking events, pre covid, young entrepreneurs have told me they saw me give a talk at their school and started their own businesses.

Response: Ah sounds fantastic Nigel , so rewarding to have made a difference and given a young person inspiration

Response: I have mentored for Princes Trust as well and helped many small start ups get going. All rewarding enterprises. Thank you Paul.

Response: Could @MadeinBritainGB organise a map of the UK with the different manufacturers on it?

Response: Agree with @Phil_Pond I suspect that there are very few, adults included. So many people are far removed from the items they use on a daily basis & even from their surroundings. My wife and I try to teach our kids the value of their belongings, where they come from, how made

Made in Britain: A few more people should too. Has the word "mend" vanished from children's vocabularies?

Response: I think that the word 'mend' has, partly down to the fact that a lot of products are cheaper to replace than repair. We are lucky that there are a few 'man shed' innitatives in our local area when you can take items to be repaired and meet like-minded individuals.

Response: Not many I'd guess. Equalled only by the number of adults that do (or rather don't). Lots for manufacturers to do to change that. All simple, cheap & helpful in making local-connection & building on the buy-local movement. In this case 'local' being the UK

Made in Britain: I like the terms "all simple, cheap and helpful" - why don't they do it then?

Response: for some it's easier to join the masses shouting 'buy British' than say what that means. For others it would mean exposing elements they'd rather not. Others just need to have the suggestion to do so. Some already are.

We tend not to edit the contributor's Twitter-speak text so if anybody would like to understand this better, email editor@madeinbritain.org and I will try to get a clearer explanation.

Join Made in Britain on Twitter at 1pm every Thursday for #MadeinBritainHour. We engage with everybody, members and non-members alike (some of whom become members as a result). Hopefully, see you there.

This page has links to all the previous Twitter conversations we have 'caught in the net': CLICK HERE.

By Made in Britain 5 months ago | Made in Britain news

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