Manufacturing is the cornerstone of many leading organisations and countries. In the UK, it contributes £6.7 trillion annually to the economy, making the UK the eighth largest industrial nation. With 2.6 million people employed by the sector, and a further 124,000 required by 2024, there’s no better time to join manufacturing. But how can you ensure that your CV stands out from the crowd? It begins with building essential manufacturing experience and skills.
Broadly speaking, manufacturing candidates will need skills in diagram and chart interpretation, solving practical problems, numeracy, teamwork and technical skills. Some of this may be taught academically, but others can be learnt on-the-job. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a manufacturing job either, it simply has to demonstrate your competency.
Academic ways into the sector include the traditional university route, but also alternative routes like apprenticeships that enable students to study and work at the same time. Most university courses also include one or more placements to ensure that their students gain valuable hands-on experience.
The route taken depends largely on a candidate’s end-goal and learning style. University courses are a fast-track into the industry, but apprenticeships will give more practical experience. Some areas, like aerospace engineering, require specialised qualifications and direct industry experience.
It’s worth getting as much frontline industry experience as possible, beyond what’s offered through academic institutions. Organising your own work experience will set you apart from other candidates in the long term. Plus, working alongside current employees will give a better indication of what your career could look like and help you develop valuable connections.
Even if you lack the skills to work directly on manufacturing processes, office-based work will allow you to see the inner workings of manufacturers and their day-to-day reality. So, reach out to companies you admire and make speculative applications for work experience in your local area.
Similarly, you should aim to build a network of industry insiders early on in your career. These people will become your mentors, advisors and help you navigate your job hunt. Talking with people who work in your desired area or role will give you a better idea of qualifications and experience required. They may also offer you a placement or introductions to other professionals.
Attending industry events, where possible, can tell you where the sector is heading and key trends impacting it. Likewise, you should keep up-to-date with relevant company blogs, industry publications and social accounts. This gives you more to talk about in interviews and will show your enthusiasm for the sector.
Compile a list of your desired employers and tailor your experience to them. Apply for work placements, follow them on social media, connect with current employees and sign-up to their events and marketing newsletters.
When kickstarting your manufacturing career, you get as much as you put in. To stand out, you must show in extra effort. Get to know the industry inside and out, and express a genuine commitment to the sector. Find examples of your skills that you can talk about in an interview. A bit of early groundwork can make all the difference – now and well into your future.
Are you looking to take the first step in your Manufacturing and Engineering career? Or potentially looking for the perfect talent to hire? Get in contact with Theo James Recruitment.