However the prospects for its future stability have been thrown into doubt with the publication of research showing a paltry two per cent of 16 to 23-year-olds are considering a career in the sector.
The research from Barclays Corporate Banking shows that 46 per cent of members of so-called Generation Z felt manufacturing was a career path which did not appeal to them, while 30 per cent said they did not believe they have the skills required.
Instead, young people in Yorkshire aspire towards careers in digital, technology and education, with manufacturing ranking last out of 19 potential career paths.
The research also uncovered a number of misconceptions about manufacturing among young people.
Just 30 per cent of young people in Yorkshire believe a career in manufacturing will provide them with advanced technology skills.
Furthermore, when asked about what they want from their future career, 41 per cent saidthat they wanted the opportunity to constantly build their skills is one of their top priorities and that manufacturing could not deliver this.
Debbie Mullen, Head of Larger Corporate at Barclays in Yorkshire, said: “Transforming outdated perceptions of manufacturing isn’t an easy feat, as stereotypes are hard to break, but the potential gains that come with a re-invigorated workforce and a new wave of talent in the industry, offer a tangible return on this investment.
“It is clear that there is a mis-match between perceptions of manufacturing and the reality of what a career in manufacturing can provide. The skills most desired by young people include decision-making, complex problem-solving and technical skills but these match the skills that manufacturers say employees gain from working in the industry and highlights the need for businesses to engage and inspire the younger generation.
“Raising a generation from early years to graduation is a 20-year process. In order to have an impact by 2050, manufacturers need to find ways to educate and support the next generation now, or face another 20 years or so grappling against these skills challenges.
“One solution to this is to focus on appealing to women as well as men as it’s clear that there is currently a huge gender gap in perceptions of the manufacturing industry.”
The new Barclays Corporate Banking Manufacturing report, A New Image for Manufacturing, surveyed 2,000 16-23 year olds to understand how perceptions of manufacturing have changed, and 500 manufacturing decision makers to reveal what businesses have been doing to recruit new employees, and upskill their existing workforce to use new technologies.
Thirty five per cent of the businesses surveyed in Yorkshire admit that the perception of manufacturing has become worse over the past 20 years. In particular the research reveals that industry is struggling to attract a diverse workforce, with just three per cent of of young women in Britain stating they would contemplate a career in manufacturing, compared to nine per cent of young men.
According to the OECD, women in G20 countries account for only one in four university graduates in the STEM based subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths.Recruitment solutions
Against this backdrop, more than half of Yorkshire manufacturers are finding it difficult to recruit.