Manufacturing products is part of Britain's history and Still an exciting and innovative industry to work in today. It’s also a growth sector, so now is a great time to join
Think of all the items around you that have to be created by machines or chemical processing – cars, aeroplanes, phones, computers, tools, petrol, pharmaceuticals, food, drink and textiles – all these come under the manufacturing banner.
Because manufacturing covers such a wide range of industries, there are plenty of career opportunities.
Many are on the technical side, such as engineering and design technology, but there are also lots of roles in other areas such as finance, sales, marketing, purchasing, supply chain management, human resources and customer services.
There are opportunities with small-scale manufacturers, making locally sourced and supplied products, to huge, international companies producing goods for a global market. Despite worries following Brexit, the weakening of the pound has improved exports and actually led to a boost for manufacturing businesses.
The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the sector rose to 53.3 in August 2016.
‘The August PMI data indicate a solid rebound in the performance of the UK manufacturing sector from the steep downturn that followed the EU referendum,’ says Rob Dobson, Senior Economist at IHS Markit.
‘The domestic market showed a marked recovery, especially for consumer products, while the recent depreciation of sterling drove higher inflows of new business from the USA, Europe, Scandinavia, Middle East and Asia,’ he adds.
You can find out more about different roles, specific entry requirements and the sector as a whole at nationalcareersservice.co.uk, or check out themanufacturer.com for more insights.
The UK fashion manufacturing industry (including textiles, clothing, leather and footwear) employs nearly 100,000 people, according to skills body Creative Skillset. If you love clothes, you may want to consider a career in this field.
This industry involves the processing of yarns and fibres, dyeing and finishing of yarns, threads and fabrics, and the subsequent design, manufacture or distribution of textiles, such as soft furnishings, and carpets. It also covers the production and development of new textiles and fibres, including technical textiles.
Jobs in this sector include technical, design and production.
For lower-level roles you can often get in without formal qualifications; however, for design and more senior jobs you will usually need a textile design or art based qualification.
On the production side you could become a Manufacturing Engineer, where you would be responsible for the factory layout and calculating the number of machines required for each job, then overseeing the handling of garments by the sewing machinists and through the entire production process.
More creative roles include Pattern and Carpet Designers, where you may work in house for a flooring or fashion company. See creativeskillset.org/creative_industries/fashion_and_textiles for lots more roles.
While many people take their washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and other essential household goods for granted, it’s very difficult to imagine modern life without them.
Some of the main home appliances manufacturers in the UK are Dualit, Dyson, Kenwood Limited, Morphy Richards and Russell Hobbs.
‘Whether you work on a completely new product or an existing one, your aim would be to make sure the product is easy to use, efficient, cost-effective to produce and attractive in appearance,’ advises the National Careers Service.
As well as having a logical mind, you will need to be creative and computer savvy, as key tasks include developing ideas, making initial sketches, choosing suitable materials and using computer design software to produce detailed final drawings. You will need to have a relevant qualification at degree, foundation degree or BTEC HND level.
If things on four wheels get you all revved up, manufacturing cars and trucks could be a dream come true. Car manufacturing in the UK has hit a 14-year high, according to the industry’s trade group. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said almost 1.1 million cars were built in 2015-2016, up 9.1% on figures from 2014-2015.
To get into this field, you’ll usually need a degree in manufacturing, vehicle, or mechnical engineering.
There are tons of interesting roles within this field, from design and construction, to Vehicle Technicians and Engineers, even Squeak and Rattle Testers (yes,really).
As well as qualifications, for most of these roles you’ll need good fault-finding skills, a methodical approach, computer skills and both mental and physical dexterity.