More than 35 automotive organisations have signed up to the coalition government’s ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ initiative, which is intended to try and improve the sector’s image in a bid to tackle Europe-wide skills shortages.
Business Secretary Vince Cable, speaking during a visit to the Mini factory in Oxfordshire yesterday, said that the reason why the industry continued to have recruitment problems was that young people saw it in a negative light.
“In order to get the population of highly motivated, good young people coming in, we have to change the perception that it is technical, noisy and dirty. At a graduate level, there is a cultural issue, and it is also true of school leavers,” he said.
Cable cited the example of his own son’s friends who saw the financial services sector as a more attractive option. “My younger son was a very bright Cambridge mathematician and a heavy percentage of his peer group ended up in the City instead of in science or manufacturing,” he said.
Cable’s comments were his latest attempt to try and promote the role of manufacturing within the UK economy. In his budget speech in March, he also called for the “march of the makers”.
The manufacturing industry currently employs 2.6 million people and already contributes more to the economy than financial services, generating 11% of GDP and accounting for 55% of exports.
The aim of the ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ initiative is to encourage manufacturers to open their doors to schools so that pupils, teachers and careers advisors can learn more about the industry first-hand.
Some 35 automotive companies have already signed up to the scheme including Aston Martin, Ford, JCB and Michelin, but the aim is to roll it out to other branches of manufacturing next year.