As the UK’s third largest manufacturing centre, Leeds is home to more than 1,800 manufacturing firms, employing 26,000 people. Tie-ups between schools, colleges and businesses in Leeds will see factory tours for students, as well as taster days and work experience initiatives involving around 10,000 young people.
Graham Cooper, one of the festival’s organisers and director at printing products manufacturer Agfa Graphics in Leeds, says: “There’s a misconception among young people, which I think comes from their parents and to some extent their teachers, that manufacturing is no longer a viable career option in this country. In fact, it is thriving, and nowhere more so than here in Leeds, where there are some incredibly high-tech and exciting businesses that simply not enough people know about. The Leeds Manufacturing Festival is all about opening up workplaces to young people, and highlighting the careers and job opportunities that are available right here in Leeds, covering a huge variety of roles.”
Adds Ben Wilson, director of Leeds-based glass-reinforced plastic moulds manufacturer MPM: “As a career option, manufacturing offers the satisfaction of actually making an end product, and there is a great deal of creativity that goes into the process, as well as practical and scientific skills. With higher apprenticeships offering the prospect of a degree that does not incur the debts involved in the university route – and a range of different training options available – we’re urging young people to make sure their school or college is involved in the festival.”
Now in its second year, Leeds Manufacturing Festival is organised by the Leeds Manufacturing Alliance and Leeds Chamber of Commerce.