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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 October, 2003, 07:02 GMT
Youngsters 'shun manufacturing jobs'
Manufacturing workshop
A traditional view of computer-free manufacturing jobs

Pupils and school leavers are turning away from a future career in manufacturing because they perceive it as outdated and boring, according to a new report.

According to The Manufacturing Foundation survey children also think the sector is poorly paid and dirty.

The study of 1,770 children aged between 11 and 15 found that only one in 25 wanted a job in manufacturing.

The foundation's director James Bentley said: "Manufacturing has a fantastic range of careers to offer children, from design to marketing, engineering to IT or accounting.

"The problem is, the kids we spoke to simply didn't know enough about manufacturing."

Schools have not stayed up to date, and see manufacturing the way it was 20 years ago
Nick Brayshaw, chairman of the CBI's Manufacturing Council,

Employment in the manufacturing sector has fallen by 16% over the last five years, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in October.

Job numbers have fallen to 3.5 million from 4.2 million in 1998, with union warnings about a crisis in the sector.

'High technology'

But Nick Brayshaw, chairman of the CBI's Manufacturing Council, points out that manufacturing still accounts for a fifth of the UK's GDP.

And he believes young people could still be attracted to a career in manufacturing.

Mr Brayshaw said: "I think manufacturing has to describe how it has changed to a higher-value, higher-technology, industry.

"I don't think government has promoted manufacturing well over the past 20 years, and has given much more interest to e-commerce.

"I also think schools have not stayed up to date, and see manufacturing the way it was 20 years ago.

'Important sector'

"Schools are telling their children to go into computers and not into manufacturing, but the sector is a huge user of computers - for example in design, automation, and logistics.

"It is still a huge and important sector in the UK."

He said a public relations exercise was needed to sell the sector, which accounts for 60% of UK foreign export earnings, to children.

Most of those questioned in The Manufacturing Foundation survey believed that working in the industry was tied to assembly line production.

They also did not understand that there was a wide range of jobs on offer.

The foundation, also said not enough was being done to encourage children's natural enthusiasm for making things.

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