MPs urge PM to ‘Put manufacturing skills at heart of national curriculum’

31 March 2021

UK Houses of Parliament
UK Houses of Parliament

A group of MPs has today urged the Government to hardwire manufacturing skills into the heart of the national curriculum.

An Early Day Motion signed by some 18 MPs calls for the Government to prepare young people for a career in manufacturing in a bid to close the sector’s growing skills gap.

The motion is the brainchild of Merseyside-based valve manufacturer, Heap & Partners.

The skills gap will only grow larger in a sector which is vital to the UK’s economy if the Government fails to present it as a viable career path, the MPs warned.

UK manufacturing accounts for some £191 billion of output, while British manufacturers collectively provide 2.7 million jobs. In 2019, manufacturing accounted for more than 17% of the UK’s GDP, while today the sector accounts for around half of the country’s exports. Despite this, there is a growing skills gap in the sector, with 186,000 skilled individuals needing to be hired every year until 2024 to fill the void.  

Tabled by Labour’s Kate Osborne (MP for Jarrow), the motion has been signed by a host of parliamentary figures, including Ian Lavery MP (Wansbeck), Zarah Sultana MP (Coventry South), John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) and Mick Whitley MP (Birkenhead). Independent MP Claudia Webbe (Leicester East) and Democratic Unionist Party MP Jim Shannon (Strangford) have also given their signatures.

With the sector’s role in driving Britain’s economy forward, the MPs warned the national curriculum currently does little to equip young people with the skills required to pursue a career in manufacturing. They also raised concerns over a lack of nationwide awareness of manufacturing as a potential and viable career path.

The MPs also highlighted the growing calls of small and medium-sized manufacturers, who want an urgent review of the curriculum in a bid to see the industry receive greater representation.  

The motion was welcomed by business leaders, who called for the Government to use education to close the skills gap and help the sector thrive going forward as it recovers from the pandemic.

David Millar, Heap & Partners Managing Director said: “Manufacturing is vital to the UK’s economic wellbeing and we desperately need to protect it going forward.  

With the threat of a growing skills gap, education is the silver bullet, but there is currently nothing in the curriculum which inspires students to pursue a career in manufacturing.

Presenting it as a viable career path is crucial if Britain’s manufacturing is to continue to grow, and I strongly urge the Prime Minister to use education to empower young people to enter the sector.

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