Editor's comment: The path less chosen

It’s sometimes difficult to see the merits of joining up some of the over-complicated dots in the UK manufacturing sector, particularly when they concern its lack of success in persuading young people to enter the profession.

The Government’s role in rebuilding the UK engineering industry will always come under scrutiny. Employers often struggle to persuade colleges to offer enough composite material modules, whilst SMEs find that working with local colleges and/or building their own training workshops is unrealistic because they lack the critical mass of apprentices required to justify either.

Perhaps the problem is that today’s school pupils don’t really understand what ‘engineering’ is about? I’d shift some of the responsibility onto parents too. The older ones among us will remember mums and dads encouraging us to develop practical skills by building go-karts, Airfix model kits, or sewing and knitting. Nowadays, many youngsters are obsessed by computer games and smart phones, and lack the inclination and the aspiration to actually ‘make’ something.

It's nearly that time of year when our nearest and dearest fly the nest and begin the next chapter of their lives at university. Mums and dads will smile proudly as their son or daughter vacates the family home with their heads filled with the ambitions of being the next captain of industry.

Many teenagers will enrol on non-vocational courses until their ‘life experiences’ point them down the path of their true calling. Others will pile into the local college to ply their trades as hairdressers - as if we haven’t got enough of them already.

It needs to be made clear to everyone that we all pull together and improve the profile of UK engineering - if we are to feel confident that the next generation of composite product manufacturing will inspire young people to come and join our great industry.

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