How can we attract more people into the Manufacturing & Engineering Sector?
Karen Stewart has spent the past 9 years recruiting in the Manufacturing & Engineering sector, has fallen in love with the industry and is now truly passionate about helping business improve through their people, processes, technologies and marketing strategies. Karen is passionate about attracting people into the sector and dedicates her personal time into raising awareness about the options and potential career paths into industry.
Why do you feel it is necessary to educate people on Manufacturing & Engineering sector as a career choice?
From a personal point of view, I have to admit to falling into the industry by accident as it was never something I had thought about or been spoken to about as a youngster. I was privately educated and although I had an excellent education, I was never given strong career advice which helped to steer me in any sort of direction. I recall being advised on a potential career in Law, Medicine, and Accountancy etc. but there was never any mention of the Manufacturing & Engineering sector as something to consider. I am not mathematically minded and was never great in science subjects so it is no doubt to me that I would have gone down that route. The more involved I became in the sector, the more I realised the amazing opportunities across multiple different disciplines and felt saddened that I wasn’t aware I could have followed such a career path.
When do you believe we should start educating people on the industry and the options they have?
I think the younger we get kids involved then the better! I love the work being done by Primary Engineer who are taking this mind set into schools and trying to tackle this issue right at the start of children’s education; I have even seen little projects being completed in nurseries getting children involved at a basic level earlier and earlier. These strategies are great as a starting point but I believe time needs to be invested in educating young people on their career options they have when they finish up studying. Far too many young people do not have a realistic idea what is out there in the real world and often choose a generic subject to study at University that they enjoy rather than something that will give them excellent career options after graduation.
How can employers get involved and help?
A lot of companies in manufacturing are getting much more involved with local schools and colleges as they have seen and been directly impacted by a real lack of quality talent coming through the industry and are facing challenges in all areas from quality to engineering to production.
Ideally, I think some employers need to offer more training for entry level roles and I strongly believe in creating apprenticeships that actually breed the skills and mind-set that employers are looking for rather than relying on schools and universities to provide the next generation of talent.
Industry 4.0 is upon us, what are your thoughts on the skills needed to support this?
I am excited by industry 4.0 but truly, I am also a little apprehensive in terms of creating the right skills to support this shift in how businesses operate. Moving forward, we need to be looking at combining traditional engineering with software engineering in order to fill the skills gap that will result from this new way of working. In addition, as a recruiter, it is equally important to understand the soft skills that will be needed to match up with the type of working environment this new trend will create. In general, we, as an industry, are starting to address this but we will need to collectively increase the pace at which we do so in order to keep up with other countries that have already advanced ahead of the UK in this area.
As this is such an important topic, we are keen to hear your thoughts and opinions on the subject. Tell us what you think! You can get in touch with Karen directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the office on 0141 231 1260.