There is no doubt that COVID-19 gave the world pause. Not just in the literal sense of shutdowns, but more broadly the pandemic spurred businesses to stop and reflect on their supply chains and reliance on overseas suppliers. This led to the re-evaluation of supply chains and the increase of re-shoring manufacturing activities where possible.

According to recent research by PwC, this trend is set to continue, creating substantial growth in the manufacturing sector.

However, given the misconceptions that surround the manufacturing sector that make it difficult to attract younger candidates into the fold, how can Australia maintain and make the most of this projected growth well in the future?

According to Josh Budd, Managing Director of McNeall Plastics, these misconceptions, combined with the ageing workforce, present an issue that is at the forefront for many industry participants, as manufacturers struggle to find and retain skilled workers as well as attract new candidates into the fold.

“Whilst in the past manufacturing was considered a desirable sector to work in, unfortunately this is no longer the case. Misconceptions such as manufacturing is dirty, dangerous, monotonous, low skill and labour intensive serve to deter the future generations from considering manufacturing as a valid career option.” 

According to Shay Chalmers, Director of Strategic Engineering Australia, the challenge is made more difficult as the onus is on the industry itself to actively address and resolve these misconceptions.

“In an industry with tight margins that is focused primarily on either getting orders in the door and getting manufactured products out the door, the onus should not just fall on the industry itself,” explains Shay.

Interestingly, whilst the previous Federal Budget announced the Modern Manufacturing Strategy (a $1.5billion cash injection that addresses projects, expansions and supply chain resilience), there has been no direct address of how the Government will help with attracting the right talent in order to sustain these initiatives moving forward.

According to Josh, there needs to be a combined effort from Government, industry associations, main industry players and manufacturers across the board to create initiatives and programs that will make manufacturing more appealing to future generations.

He comments; “There is no doubt that the manufacturing sector needs a brand overhaul. With over 20% of our workforce aged 55 and over, there is no time like the present to look at how to best address this issue. Government and business needs to collaborate and develop programs, literature and more to help us communicate clearly that manufacturing has moved with the times and is a creative, innovative, agile, safe and innovative sector.”

After all, manufacturing spans some of the most interesting high-tech industries, such as aerospace, food technology, machine monitoring, and pharmaceuticals. It truly is the work of the future, so it’s time to bring manufacturing back into the future so all Australians can benefit over the long-term.

For more information on how McNeall Plastics can help your business, please contact us today.