“How to make manufacturing sexy for young people?”

Marta Portales, moderator of the session “Young generations & Manufacturing: an insurmountable gap?” went straight to the heart of the problem.

Technologist Antonio Grasso affirmed that “we must introduce young people to the new reality of manufacturing” adding that the deeply rooted old-fashion perception that young generations may have is no longer relevant. The industry, these days, is now a laboratory for new technologies. Bitcoin does not have a monopoly over blockchain technology, nor does Alexa own one over the Internet of things. As a matter of fact, in the move from automatic production to autonomous production, these technologies are now more and more implemented in factories along with AI, robotics and more.

Manipulating these technologies required a high degree of knowledge and in that respect, manufacturing is becoming a more and more “white-collar” industry.

Estela Nieto, a researcher at Ikerlan, an organisation that helps many industrial businesses in the Basque Country area was more restrained on this topic for two reasons:

  • Operational jobs will always be needed, even though a high level of automation can be reached
  • Many companies may be willing to implement new technologies to speed up their processes, but the truth is that many times they lack the funds to do so

In any case, all speakers agreed that a good “presentation [of the sector] is key”, at school in particular. Georgia Apostolou, also a researcher, suggested that visiting companies could give a more honest and practical overview of what the field is about. Estela added that personal development was another essential item that manufacturers should consider in order to attract younger generations that are keen on learning and growing in an organisation.

The full webinar can be found here and you can also watch this 2-minute extract related to the manufacturing clichés: