Last week I mentioned to you about how I was fortunate to be invited to participate in a LinkedIn live conversation with a few champions of UK Manufacturing. The essence of this discussion was why is British Manufacturing not able to engage meaningfully with the younger generation, and vice versa. I summarised four of eight factors that summarise my take on this matter. Here are four more factors this week.
Factor 5 – A Time-Balanced Approach: We know there is an acute shortage of skills in our sector. Given the urgency of this, it is quite understandable why we are not looking beyond the “here and now”. However, it a small cost of added effort, we must, as a sector, balance this with medium and long term needs. The main reason is, technical needs and skills requirement will change with time. Jobs that are needed today may not be needed in a few years time. However, what will not change is the core human life skills such as resilience, analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem solving, amongst others. Having an approach that balances immediate needs with future needs and a recruitment process that emphasizes life skills will give us better returns not just in the short term, but also in the medium and long term.
Factor 6 – The Value of Purpose: Every company, regardless of what its core activities are, is working towards a greater purpose. For example, a sub-contract machining firm might be making parts for nuclear submarines, or wind turbines. However, when we advertise these positions to attract staff, how many of our adverts have these top-level purposes built into them? Not many, is likely to be the answer. Then, why is that so? As a youngster is someone likely to be attracted in helping build the next generation of clean energy devices or machining a piece of metal based on a set of instructions?
Factor 7 – Need for a Collective Effort: They say it takes a village to raise a child, and with good reason. It is also true that it takes a village to grow an economy. There are the doers and there are those that spread the word about the good work being done by the doers. However, today, in the UK manufacturing sector, the focus of everyone, including local and national Government, public sector bodies, chambers of commerce and membership organisations is only UK PLC and UK University. Nobody seems to care about what UK Private Limited is doing. The problem appears to be that, most of these membership based organisations and chambers of commerce seem to be working to a set agenda, driven by who pays most. If your story needs to be told, you pay them. This is an insult and an injustice to the target audience, who often get fed things that they do not need, because somebody paid for this information to spread. It will take a significant change in approach from all these organisations to tell our story. Can we make it happen?
Factor 8 – Apples and Orchards: If we want good apples, we do not talk to the trees, but we talk to the farmers, who play a significant role in ensuring a conducive environment is created for healthy apples to grow. Similarly if we want youngsters to be excited about our sectors, and engage meaningfully with us, we must start with the parents and teachers, who have a significant role to play in creating the right environment for children to get passionate! Children are naturally inquisitive and instinctive, and our education system must nurture it, rather than dampen it.