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Manufacturing & Industry

So you’ve designed a brilliant new product? Time to get it made! Find out how careers in manufacturing & industry fit together.

What is manufacturing and industry?

From jet planes to dinner plates, once something is designed it needs to be built and often mass-produced to meet with demand from consumers like us.

Manufacturing deals with the production of things using machines, tools, chemicals and good old-fashioned handcrafting.

Industrial production takes raw materials and transforms them into the finished article on a grand scale.

There are a variety of jobs available in this area, and more things are made in the UK than you think...

What manufacturing and industry jobs can I do?

  • Engineers: The masterminds behind the design, build and maintenance of many many different things. We’re focusing on manufacturing here but you can find out more about different careers in engineering in its very own section.
  • Food technologists: Come up with delicious recipes and new ways of making the latest foods that we buy in shops – from ready meals to low-fat yogurts. It’s also their job to make sure foods are safe and contain all the proper ingredients.
  • Industrial engineers: Bring together people, money and machines to improve how everything works together. They can often be brought into companies as consultants.
  • Manufacturing engineers: Design the machines, tools and systems that put together products.
  • Manufacturing managers: Oversee production, manage workers and make sure things go smoothly on the factory floor.
  • Production engineer: Looks at the best way to manage a production line to get things out speedily and efficiently.
  • Production worker: Directly involved in putting together the product. This could include working machines, manning the conveyor belt, fitting and finishing parts or packing the finished products. You might get the opportunity to train in a skilled craft like machine operation, electronics or even fine stitching for shoes on a production line.           
  • Quality assurance managers: Make sure that all the products flying off the production line are in good working order and up to all of the necessary legal and safety standards. They will often set standards and design ways of checking products.

Is a career in manufacturing and industry for me?

These are great careers for problem solvers and people who enjoy planning and organising.

You should be able to work as part of a big team and work under pressure to meet deadlines.

In order to find work as an engineer, you’ll need to demonstrate that you have a head for numbers. However, manufacturing engineers and food technicians also get the chance to be creative and come up with new products and ideas.

How can I start a career in manufacturing and industry?

Apprenticeships

An apprenticeship is a great way to begin a career in this area. To get onto a programme, you'll typically need grades 4+ in English and maths. At A-level, you should take maths and other STEM subjects, or you could apply for an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship straight after completing your GCSEs, as an alternative to A-levels.

Apprenticeships cover many professions, including:

  • Fashion and textiles pattern cutter (level 3)
  • Fenestration fabricator (level 2)
  • Machining technician (level 3)
  • Material cutter (level 2)
  • Metal fabricator (level 3)
  • New furniture product developer (level 3)
  • Pipe welder (level 3)
  • Tool process design engineer (level 6)

Lots of big manufacturing companies, including car and appliance manufacturers, offer apprenticeships for school leavers to train as technicians.

University

University may be a good option if you would like to go into an engineering-focused role. Although apprenticeships are available, many engineers choose to take a university degree and postgraduate qualification.

What manufacturing and industry qualifications are available?

There are plenty of opportunities to gain new skills on the job at all levels. Apprentices can study towards qualifications, like a BTEC in engineering, NVQ in chemical manufacturing or even a foundation or undergraduate degree.

Did you know these manufacturing and industry facts?

Julie Deane started the Cambridge Satchel Company in 2008 with just £600 of start-up money. At its height, the company had a turnover of more than £1 million a month and manufactures all of its satchels in the UK.

2.3 million people work in UK manufacturing (2023).

Although our manufacturing industry has declined since the 1980s, the UK remains the ninth largest manufacturer in the world by output.