Opportunities for “Generation X” and Beyond - Pathways into Manufacturing

Made Futures



Businesses throughout the world are increasingly recognising the value of older workers, often due to their ability to fill skills shortages and also because of the benefits that having mixed-age teams can bring to a workforce as a whole. 

However, in the modern era, it is important for older workers to understand the basics of working in a digital format. To support in pinpoint where businesses can find support for this, and to highlight the wide-reading opportunities for "Generation X" that are available right now, Made in Group enlisted the expertise of Craig Walsh (STEM-Up Programme Manager at Birmingham City University) and Dean Coleman Walker (Business Development Director at Appris).

"Generation X" can roughly be defined as those born from the early 1960s to late 1970s and is currently between 41-56 years old. However, whilst this was the primary target audience for this panel discussion, Craig and Dean both highlighted opportunities for those who are both younger and older than this.

As part of the first day of the Made Futures Virtual Careers Fair, Craig began this event by showing a video on the STEM-Up Programme, which brings an exciting collaboration between Birmingham City University, Aston University and Solihull College & University Centre.

A professional development programme, this is a truly inclusive opportunity through being able to benefit business owners, employers, jobseekers and students.

STEM-Up is a professional development project that provides access to free skills workshops and webinars. The programme delivers workshops and webinars in STEM, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) and soft skills.

Craig highlighting offered some practical ways in which employees can work with the likes of Birmingham City University on this programme to "Upskill to advance in the digital age".

Ultimately, this STEM-Up project has been designed to support people in assessing the gaps in their skills and find the right training courses to meet those needs. The STEM-Up team also works closely with the careers team within the university to deliver this, supporting people through the project and their journey.

Dean Coleman-Walker then provided a brief history of his career which has led him to now being the Business Development Director of Appris - who are West Yorkshire's leading provider of engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships.

In Appris' history, they have delivered in excess of 5,000 apprenticeships. Dean highlighted that the working landscape from his perspective has changed vastly in the last 5 years - particularly through his experience of speaking with manufacturing companies. Notably, there seems to be a largely aging workforce within large portions of this industry.

As retirees leave, this aging workforce results in a large amount of pressure being put on the likes of HR departments to recruit younger people into the business. However, Dean has witnessed successful apprenticeships of various ages, including those of 30, 40, 50 years old and above.

Apprenticeships provide opportunities for those looking for a new career path or those hoping to find a pathway into manufacturing. "Don't forget, apprenticeships are available to people at any age" said Dean; who also revealed that the trend of apprenticeships being just for "young" people is changing, with Appris having seen 40% of their apprenticeships having been with those aged over 25.

Ultimately, Craig and Dean were both keen to emphasises that, for anyone looking to start or further their careers - at whatever age - there is a huge amount of assistance out there, so don't feel like you can't ask for support - regardless of whether it is from a university, apprenticeship provider or another organisation.

Following on from the panelists' short presentations, there were questions which were asked through Zoom by Made Futures attendees. 

If you missed the event or you simply want to watch back any of the content, then you can access this video on the Made in Group YouTube channel now.


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