https://innovateuk.blog.gov.uk/2017/09/01/inspiring-talent-and-innovation-in-manufacturing/

Inspiring talent and innovation in manufacturing

In any sort of innovative activity, talented people are critical. The UK manufacturing sector urgently needs to recruit more young men and women to add new ideas - yet frequently struggles to find them.

This is why Made Here Now was started: to try out new ways to convince more young people that manufacturing offers an attractive career.

Made Here Now aims to change the often-negative perceptions about manufacturing by:

  • highlighting some of the success stories of British manufacturing
  • devising new ways to communicate with young people and those who influence them

Difficult to explain industry to young people

Plessey Semiconductors, case study on Made Here Now’s website
Plessey Semiconductors, case study on Made Here Now’s website, who make possible a new generation of light sources. Photo by Dan Lynch.

Manufacturers and teachers often struggle to adequately explain the world of industry to young people because they lack inspiring resources to teach STEM subjects.

The difficulties were aired in a recent report by Professor John Uff. Uff considered the flow of people into all fields of engineering - from operating railways to designing power stations.

Across this spectrum manufacturing employs an estimated 40% of the 5 million people in Britain with engineering-related skills.

A serious deficit in UK engineers

However, Uff says many existing schemes to engage with young people on STEM  [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] topics fail to encourage them to consider STEM activities as a career.

The result is a serious lack of scientific literacy and a highly restricted talent pool for engineering.

Uff says that since 2010, there has been no material increase in numbers taking STEM courses.

Engineering is badly marketed

Uff highlights the importance of marketing [of engineering related subjects] in addressing misperceptions and prompting enquiry.

However, he says this is poorly addressed in many current schemes, operated either by the engineering profession or educational groups, and this is why most existing promotional schemes fail.

STEM options are, for some young people, loaded with perceptions of limitations. Moreover, there is a need to coordinate the many existing schemes which frequently overlap in a way that is ‘bewildering and wasteful.

Made here now – finding new ways to inspire young people about manufacturing

Brompton Factory features on Made Here Now’s website showing how the iconic Brompton bicycle is made
Brompton Factory features on Made Here Now’s website showing how the iconic Brompton bicycle is made

Against this background, Made Here Now developed new ideas for inspiring young people to consider careers in manufacturing, through its website and use of social media.

We believe that by using compelling photography, multimedia, design and writing, we can help to raise the profile of manufacturing, especially by helping teachers in schools use the material to convey appealing messages to young people.

Initiative sponsored by businesses, universities and research groups

Made Here Now has completed two phases of development, backed by more than 60 businesses, universities and trade and research groups. In Phase One, we recruited sponsors and supporters to help spread the word about Made Here Now and to gain insight into the project’s direction.

In Phase Two, we redesigned the website and added resources so young people interested in engineering could find inspiring case studies, videos and stories, as well as finding the right pathways for their chosen career. This Phase also saw Made Here Now working closely with sponsors and supporters to encourage more people to visit the website.

So far ten sponsors have said they will back the third phase which began earlier this year. They include:

  • Innovate UK
  • Harwin
  • Plessey Semiconductors
  • Gripple
  • Santander Bank
  • Comino Foundation (education charity)
  • Manufacturing Technologies Association
  • AESSEAL
  • Brompton Bicycle
  • Warwick Manufacturing Group

Developing exciting educational materials

In this latest phase, Made Here Now will work with the Design and Technology Association to deliver materials that can be used by school teachers and manufacturing companies. The aim of these materials is to motivate and excite young people, from as young as 11 years old, about the opportunities the sector offers.

In the new phase of work, we will create website-based education packages aimed at these two groups.

Coordination is key

In its work Made Here Now aims to be the glue between the many organisations which are already active in efforts to create better links between manufacturers and educators, helping both groups to spread the message that industry can provide a bright future.

Find out more about Made Here Now:

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