The boss of a major firm in South Tyneside says attitudes to manufacturing and apprenticeships must change if the UK is to have a booming engineering industry.
Siemens director of asset services, Des Young, made his comments at the latest meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing Forum (AMF).
Apprentices coming out of their time are often a lot more productve than a graduate in reality as well. Des YoungDes Young
Mr Young said action must be taken to address shortages in the industry’s workforce and to alter perceptions of the sector.
He said: “Perceptions of manufacturing must change. It’s often thought of as being dirty and smelly, but that’s not all it can be.
“There is so much more that is really exciting and inspiring, and that’s got to be promoted.
“We as businesses really need to start doing those activities for ourselves.”
Mr Young told those at the event how he started his working life as an apprentice.
He said he felt he had to overcome the stigma of his career choice, which he says is still the case for those going down the apprentice route today.
He added: “Everybody was saying to me, ‘Why do you want to be an apprentice, why do you want to go into engineering? Why don’t you go to university?’
“There is still a lot of that mentality today.
“However, due to university costs being so high, and job prospects at the end, people are thinking twice about going down that ‘traditional’ route.
“Apprentices coming out of their time are often a lot more productive than a graduate in reality as well.
“It’s something that needs working on, to get away from the ‘traditional’ view of it.
“Manufacturing matters, rebuilding the economy proves that.
“Invest, innovate and educate, for a successful manufacturing industry.”
Ian Fawdon, chairman of the AMF, said: “Des kindly agreed to talk at AMF’s September meeting about the challenges that face manufacturers locally, nationally, and globally.
“He was engaging during his speech and made some very good points, which members could relate to.
“It is extremely important to change attitudes towards engineering and manufacturing, and people like Des Young, who started his career as an apprentice, are the perfect role models for budding engineers, or those thinking about engineering as a career.”