EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #madeinbritainhour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 19,500 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.
This week we look at supporting and inspiring the next generation of manufacturers.
Question one: How can manufacturing businesses support the local community and local areas? And what tangible benefits can a business achieve?
Response: Building partnerships with local businesses is a commitment of ours. When the pandemic hit, we prioritised getting our COVID screens to local barbers, schools, shops etc. so they could continue to operate safely.
Made in Britain: Did you know these businesses prior to the pandemic? And equally did they know you?
Response: We already had a relationship with some businesses but, over the course of the pandemic, we’ve been in touch with a lot more schools and started building partnerships there that weren’t in place before
Made in Britain: Will that lead to future business or is this a goodwill type relationship?
Response: Bit of both. We’re happy to supply products that can keep these schools/businesses operating safely and it will likely lead to future business through word of mouth!
Made in Britain: How were the first contacts made between you and the local businesses/schools etc?
Response: A variety of channels: some reached out to us after seeing products online or through word of mouth. We complied a contact base of schools to reach out to as well.
Response: Great to see you actively reaching out to the local community and schools, it's so important
Response: Get in touch with the Young Enterprise Charity, they are doing some amazing work and help businesses with volunteering opportunities
Made in Britain: Are businesses generally supportive of this?
Response: I don't think many manufacturers are aware of the opportunities the Young Enterprise can offer. There seems to be a serious lack of engagement by manufacturers with their local community
Response from Made in Britain member Glencroft: Apart from the obvious (employing local people), we work with other local business to promote the local area through a village website, advertise with our local newsletter, support local charities and currently investigating ways to work with local farmers.
Made in Britain: We notice from your promotional activities and social media that your photos actually promote the area so well.
Response: Well yes, why wouldn’t you when you’re based in such a beautiful part of the world?! It’s give and take, we proudly say ‘based in the Yorkshire Dales’ as part of brand, so we feel we should contribute to ensure the area continues to be unspoilt and economically viable
Made in Britain: It certainly does help the brand image. Do you think that more businesses should show the "real them", factories, people at work? Rather than being an anonymous entity from a factory "somewhere in Britain"?
Glencroft: Oh definitely. It’s authentic and real which is a breath of fresh air online (have you ever tried to speak to a real person at Amazon?). I’d say most people we speak to prefer to know where things come from.
Response: Do you think the Dales photos are even more appealing to the overseas markets?
Response: Our overseas markets (Japan, USA, Canada) love anything ‘British’, whether that’s Dales, Scotland, London. Although I think it’s authenticity again. Be true to your brand and heritage with the images you use. They don’t necessarily have to be local to you.
Response: There is something in "real photos" rather than "stock photos" and something in being proud of where you. Do keep posting images of the Dales and the smell of British wool. It shows the diversity of British manufacturing.
Response: Thanks! And likewise, we love seeing the other British manufacturers out there. From plastics to metal, fridges to car parts! So many talented businesses out there
Response: The benefits of being involved in the local community, whether it is business or domestic, can vary from, having a voice, PR, new employees and pride of giving back. Start in the schools
Made in Britain: Pride is a good one. We're seeing a lot more manufacturers being "proud" of where they are, what they make and also their long history
Response: It is good to see that many have apprentices... does the industry promote mentoring?
Response from Made in Britain member Alltrade Printers: We have been supporting the local community food banks by providing boxes for food parcels during these interesting times and help with delivering food packs Informing local businesses that we are open for business via social media etc
Made in Britain: Do you think the support you provide will continue when things return to "normal"?
Response: Yes of course! We always help the local community with some project or the other. Hope that we can carry on helping wherever possible
Response from Made in Britain member Excell Metal Spinning: We work with our local university here in Portsmouth, and support each other mutually by providing students with real world experience, and at the same building on our objectives such as identifying export opportunities!
Response from Made in Britain member Addmaster: We have recently signed up to be a #businessbuddy for @KHHospice. If we can spread any awareness for them and through our contributions helps to raise much needed funds at this very tough time then hopefully our efforts will have a positive impact on supporting their services
Response: For 20 years I have delivered inspirational lectures to thousands of 14/15 yo's in classes across south Wales. We discuss life, career opportunities and pathways. Emphasis on manufacturing, engineering and innovation. Many pupils unaware of range
Made in Britain: We often wonder whether children don't go into certain areas due to lack of awareness rather than lack of interest. There is a lot that manufacturers could actually do. I always found it inspiring listening to people who actually did the jobs.
Response: As I said earlier. Get onto the schools and put on presentations. Many children are only aware of celebrities on television and tic tok. Change their perceptions and open up a new world for them
Response: Well said Nigel, we also need to find a way to glamourise manufacturing
Response from Made in Britain member Peerless Plastics and Coatings: We're currently reaching out to local schools, colleges etc and offering them donations of free face visors to help the staff and students feel safer. Initially a few of us with kids reached out to their school principals via email to get the ball rolling
Response: Well done, this is great. What will you follow this up with now you have established contact?
Response: I personally visited 2 schools to donate them a box - socially distanced. I asked permission to post on our SM to help raise awareness. We received contact from an Enterprise Co-ordinator responsible for schools across Norfolk & Suffolk enabling us to donate a further 4,000 odd.
Response: We give to our local food bank and then choose around 5-6 charities to make donations to each year. We also have our nominated charity Children of Chernobyl where we send our products for free each year to help with their medical needs. The benefits for us is in giving back. Our staff can come to us with charities and we get feedback of what our money has provided. Without sounding too cheesy, in our opinion, every business should have an element where they're working for the greater good
Question two: What are the benefits of taking on apprentices and how can businesses go about this?
Response from Made in Britain member Excell Metal Spinning: It begins to address the concerns of an aging workforce that the UK currently suffers from. It also creates job opportunities in the long run, and often a fresh approach. Our apprentices have developed into skilled, highly professional operators and we look to take on more
Response: The majority of young people are willing and enthusiastic if given the opportunity. Employing Apprentices gives you the opportunity to develop the enthusiastic employee of the future. One that is invested in the growth of the company
Made in Britain: How easy is it for businesses to take on apprentices at present? Government support available?
Response: Yes, big drive to employ apprentices in Wales to reduce unemployment amongst the young. Apprenticeships offer payment as well as learning. Big win for the apprentice and employer
Made in Britain: Do manufacturers take up these opportunities? Do they all know about them?
Response: A few of the ones I have worked with have. One has three apprentices and they sponsor a local competition for Apprentice of the year awards. It is a precision engineering manufacturer. They are developing the precision engineers of the future
Response from Made in Britain member Alltrade Printers: It is important for industry to train tomorrows leaders. Apprentices are important as the apprentice learns on the job bag gets first-hand experience. There are so many resources that can be tapped into.
Made in Britain: Do you take on apprentices/those fresh out of school/college?
Response: Mostly through our link with the local printing College
Response: Do you do what Nigel has been talking about, actively go and talk to college students about what you do?
Response: Yes, we have done previously. We have had site visits from the College with the students over the years to come over to see what is involved in our industry
Response: Site and factory visits really do make a difference in bringing work to life. We've seen that many manufacturers have realised this by starting to post virtual and filmed factory visits. We'd like to see more of these.
Response: We need to change the attitude of our young generation. They see an apprenticeship as a last resort in case they fail their exams rather than a fantastic opportunity to work and learn whilst being paid and learning a trade for life
Response: Apprenticeships build skills and keep staff in workplace. There's also #funding available to employers to help with on the job training etc
Made in Britain: We've heard it said before that apprentices are easier to train because they haven't been "incorrectly trained" before. Would you agree with that?
Response from Made in Britain member Alltrade Printers: Yes, that is correct. We agree
Response: Yes I can see how that would be advantageous in #manufacturing. And because their training is supported with external funding streams I guess that makes it more lucrative to businesses
Question three: What activities/initiatives have you seen manufacturers do to engage children/students to educate them about manufacturing?
Response: Leeds Manufacturing Festival, Plymouth Manufacturing Festival, The Engineering Trust. I am running a webinar next week on how we make manufacturing more attractive to the younger generation and have speakers from these 3 initiatives talking about what they do
Response: Our local college has a Head of Apprenticeships who is also a Board Member of the local business forum. She is very active in talking to businesses and providing information to encourage apprenticeships.
Made in Britain: Is that a common role across colleges? if not then perhaps it should be?
Response: Not sure if it's common in all colleges nationwide but in this locality it works very well.
Response: Speak to local head teachers and LEAs about presenting to 14 and 15 year olds. tell a story about the business and how it developed. Tell a story about what it is like to work in the company. arrange school visits to the company to see it all working
Response: Airbus are launching their Space Cadet Apprenticeship initiative in November, which I really think will capture the kids interest. We need more stuff like this
Made in Britain: The big companies have the resources to do these sort of things. Is there anything smaller companies can do?
Response: I always remember when at school going to do a one day competition ran by British Aerospace. They set us a challenge and we had a day to do it. Really inspiring to see real people who built aeroplanes.
Response from Made in Britain member Alltrade Printers: We hope to do more of this as soon as there is a change to the current situation we are in.
Response: These opportunities would be so great, absolutely! The issue with this is though that the education system is too rigid nowadays. Schools are having to focus their efforts on exam stats in academic subjects and not practical skills in design and #manufacturing
Response: There are opportunities in the PSE subject class that is compulsory for all schools from 5 to 15 years of age. It includes work and lifelong learning
Response from Made in Britain member Peerless Plastics and Coatings: I've seen various local manufacturers sponsor trade fairs and science festivals aimed at children ranging from 10 years old and up. Giving talks & setting fun tasks to engage the workforce of the future. Seems to work for those that attend...
Question four: How can we inspire the next generation to become innovators, designers, engineers and manufacturers?
Response: We need to ensure entrepreneurism is as accessible as possible. Young people should be encouraged to work on their own projects through school and college, and given the tools to take them to market
Response: Also have them get involved
Response: We should also encourage regular engagement through innovation brain storming with colleges and universities, asking them to think about challenges and see what they come up with. Regular competitions would encourage them to think creatively.
Response: Competitions would definitely help!
Response from Made in Britain member Alltrade Printers: It would be good to have local colleges send youngsters to manufacturing companies for their 2 week work experience as well as do factory visits
Response: Put the innovators, designers, engineers and manufacturers into the classroom and tell their stories. Having a real engineer in the class is powerful. Showing pupils the vast range of options available to them
Response from Made in Britain member Peerless Plastics: Agreed! I can still remember a couple of 'talks' from employees who attended my career days when I was at school (many, many years ago now!) as they were engaging and really made me think.
Response: I think they need to dispel the myth that manufacturing is a dirty, dark place and show the exciting side, IE 3D printing, digital twining.
Response: There is something very important in that comment. The clean environment of satellite manufacture, 3d printing space rockets etc. I wonder how many children think that these are "science fiction" rather than in a big factory three streets away from them?
Response: This is why we need to be in the schools talking to pupils and opening their minds
Response: Build their appetite for competition - a self-belief & appetite for accomplishment & the toughness to bear the cost - the months of dedicated effort, the resilience to highs & lows - will help as they direct their energies to innovating.
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