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Five years ago, Make UK surveyed the British public for their views about the industry we represent. The results were bleak. Many respondents expressed outdated views about modern manufacturing, saying they viewed the sector as dirty and dangerous, poorly paid, and with limited career opportunities. Clearly, our sector needed to do much more to update the understanding and image of modern manufacturing and help the public see what we see as a dynamic, inspiring, and innovative industry.

Over the past five years, our sector and wider UK society have faced unprecedented challenges that nobody could have predicted. The Covid-19 crisis highlighted the crucial role of our industrial base in maintaining our national prosperity and wellbeing. UK manufacturers showed remarkable ingenuity and innovation in leading the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and rebuilding our country.

The pandemic highlighted the strength of UK manufacturers, leading to more positive press coverage and transformative changes in operations over the past five years.

This year, Make UK’s public perceptions survey found that an overwhelming 93% of respondents say they believe manufacturing is important to the UK economy and over three-quarters see manufacturing as delivering solutions today to address the challenges of tomorrow.

Manufacturers have been working hard to reduce their energy use and slash carbon emissions – demonstrating their commitment to net zero. The public has recognised this, with over half the public believing manufacturing is environmentally friendly.

The hard work and resilience of manufacturers over the last few years has paid off, and this is reflected in the uptick of perceptions among the British public. But there is still work to be done as over half of the children surveyed had not even considered a job in manufacturing. National Manufacturing Day is an opportunity to showcase what the sector has to offer to the next generation of makers, creators and innovators.

Stephen Phipson CEO, Make UK

Sheffield Hallam University has a rich heritage in supporting both the regional and national manufacturing sector and welcomes this report and the positive perceptions it highlights about UK manufacturing.

The University is committed to working alongside manufacturing clients to understand the skills needs and develop talent pipelines that will meet the challenges facing the sector highlighted in the report.

John Sorsby Business Development Manager, Sheffield Hallam University

Available resources

Make UK / Industry report