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Career Options in Manufacturing & Production: School Leaver

What is the industry about?

If you enjoy design technology lessons at school, then a career in the manufacturing and production industry could be for you. It involves making new products and materials and even if you don’t want to be in the workshop in some dashing overalls, there are plenty of career paths to follow in this industry. You could be a product designer or product manufacturer, or perhaps you want to be an engineer and make a whole range of machines from cars to trains to aeroplanes!

Even if you aren’t great at drawing and designing, and you know you weren’t born to be a manufacturer and spend your days in a workshop you could work in manufacturing and production as a market researcher and find out what the public want that would make their lives easier. The whole manufacturing and production process is a giant team effort, from finding out what customers want to the product arriving on the shop shelves so there are lots of areas to specialise in.

It’s not just things like cars either; clothes, mobile phones and furniture all go through a manufacturing and production process, so you can specialise in an area that interests you! You need to be able to think outside the box and not be afraid to try new and innovative things to work in this industry.

What opportunities are available to me?

- Intermediate Apprenticeships

- Advanced Apprenticeships

- Higher Apprenticeships

- Further and/or higher education.

Engineering and practical manufacturing jobs in large companies are often reserved for university graduates but there are also in-roads available by undertaking an Intermediate, Advanced or Higher Apprenticeship. These are paid positions (winner!) and allow you to work toward a national qualification and there are loads of options.

You could do an Advanced Apprenticeship and work towards being a production manager and overseeing the entire process, or you might fancy yourself as an engineering woodworker. Advanced Apprenticeships are even open to those who want to become a butcher, baker or chocolatier. Imagine all the tasty bread and chocolate you could make, you could be the next Warburtons or Cadbury!

Intermediate Apprenticeships are available for roles such as glass manufacturer and furniture maker and are open to those with five GCSEs at grade C or above (simple, right?). You’ll also need to show that you have good communication, problem solving and teamwork skills as well as being fully aware of health and safety practices. After all, you don’t want to be sawing off your fingers.

Higher Apprenticeships can be undertaken for roles such as fashion merchandiser and marketing manager, though the requirements for getting on to programmes like these will include the need for you to have a few A levels. Therefore if you want to a Higher Apprenticeship, you will have to go to college or sixth form.

If you want to be a manufacturing engineer or specialise in product research then you will have to go to university and arm yourself with more knowledge and qualifications before entering the manufacturing and engineering job market.

Setting the school leaver record straight

University has been a popular route to employment for a while now, but with tuition fees going up to £9000 a year, students are looking for different routes without racking up loads of debt. You might not know much about apprenticeships and perhaps your teachers don’t know as much about apprenticeships than they do about university. Well, let us do what we say we would do and set the record straight.

There are routes into the manufacturing and production industry at all levels: Intermediate and Advanced Apprenticeships are available to GCSE school leaver whereas Higher Apprenticeships can be undertaken after studying for A Levels. For more specialised career paths though, you will need to do a degree, but don’t be put off by the tuition fees as student loans are available to everybody.

Formal education: should I stay or should I go?

As touched upon above, the manufacturing and production industry is accessible from any level so going on to further and higher education depends on the role or career you want. It’s best to do some research about the roles out there and the qualifications you need. 

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