We need more women in the workforce
By Nigel Leivers, managing director at Derby based fabricator, Frame Fast UK.
How can the window industry attract more young people, especially women, into window fabrication?
There’s a shortage of young people choosing manufacturing as a career, and there’s an even bigger shortage of women coming onto the shop floor.
Over the last 20 years, successive governments have not made manufacturing or construction a positive choice for school leavers. Many young people don’t know all the different employment opportunities, and those not going to university often don’t get the advice they need.
Career advisors overlook opportunities in manufacturing or construction, while the number of young people choosing media jobs has skyrocketed.
At Frame Fast, many of our supervisors and managers started in the factory, so getting the first step on the ladder can be the beginning of a great career path.
Sharon, who today works on the trade counter, started on the shop floor 21 years ago. Her intricate knowledge of manufacturing means customers can discuss details of products with her and they really value her experience.
We have excellent opportunities in the UK to really promote manufacturing to young people and especially to women.
In fact, history shows us that women have been integral to the workforce in factories since the industrial revolution, in two World Wars and throughout the 20th Century.
We have come a long way since then. Today, factory conditions are highly regulated. Health and safety is paramount, and training is top of the agenda.
So, with all these improvements, why aren’t manufacturing jobs more appealing to young people and women in particular?
Britain is great at manufacturing. In Derby, much of our local economy is rooted in manufacturing including three household names in planes (Rolls Royce), trains (Alstom, formerly Bombardier) and automobiles (Toyota). But we are part of a huge industry too. The glazing supply chain alone is worth £4 billion a year, and many of our suppliers are based within 25 miles of the city.
However, it’s likely that jobs like these aren’t seen for the impressive career opportunities they can bring. That’s why we have teamed up with Derby College to offer apprenticeships in lean manufacturing which is a good all-round qualification and puts problem solving at the centre of the course.
The hands-on experience in the factory ensures good working practices, including teamwork, time management and pride in the job.