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Last Updated: Monday, 24 October 2005, 00:34 GMT 01:34 UK
TV soap bosses 'put students off'
Coronation Street's Mike Baldwin, played by Johnny Briggs
Johnny Briggs plays factory boss Mike Baldwin in Coronation Street
Soap opera bosses like Coronation Street's Mike Baldwin are deterring teenagers from taking factory jobs, Welsh academics have claimed.

A report by the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education (Newi) has blamed soap operas for giving factory work a poor image.

ITV's long-running soap Coronation Street was singled out for criticism by the institute.

Newi surveyed 200 teenagers in north Wales and north-west England.

The report, published on Monday, criticised soap operas on UK television as being full of "working-class people doing repetitive badly-paid work at the mercy of an autocratic sexist boss".

It said many students think manufacturing work is "boring, dirty and smelly".

Factories wouldn't survive if they bullied workers and adopted the working practices as shown on television
Professor Mike Scott

Coronation Street's Underworld knicker factory - run by actor Johnny Briggs' character Mike Baldwin - came in for particular criticism.

Professor Mike Scott, Newi's chief executive, said: "Coronation Street has a huge impact especially with younger people.

"I believe the way Underworld is portrayed is affecting our ability to attract students into manufacturing and engineering."

The institute has quoted government figures showing the number of students getting engineering-related degrees is falling.

"Factories wouldn't survive if they bullied workers and adopted the working practices as shown on television," Professor Scott said.

The survey into attitudes towards manufacturing found 96% of girls had not considered a career in the sector, but 61% of boys had.

Professor Scott added: "Soaps are hugely influential and they know it.

"They should have a look at how clean and efficient most factories are now, and the real opportunities they offer for career advancement and international travel.

Fun factory

"I am begging the scriptwriters to consider making the factory more glamorous and successful. If they did, they could really help us encourage teenagers and graduates into the industry."

A spokeswoman for Coronation Street producers Granada said: "We are a drama which is there to entertain people, not a public service broadcast or a recruitment drive for any particular part of industry.

"There's an awful lot of humour to be had from a lot of people working in a factory.

"Contrary to what the report says, the factory seemed to be a great fun place to work."

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