A Career in Manufacturing and Production
There are a great many opportunities available for those seeking employment in a manufacturing or production environment. Some of the largest employers in the UK include automotive manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, petrochemical companies and engineering firms so it is certainly a diverse and interesting field to enter.
In general, employment in manufacturing and production will involve working a shift system to ensure that the process is operating effectively and efficiently. The use of complex machinery is commonplace and will therefore require you to demonstrate strong technical proficiency and attention to detail. There is also a need for workers who are skilled in areas such as machine minding and setting. Depending on the industry you are working in, a variety of raw materials may be used and detailed quality checks will have to be completed to ensure that the finished product is of the required specification. Some packing and storage work may be involved and you will generally be responsible for ensuring that the working environment is both clean and safe at all times.
Opportunities for promotion can involve becoming a supervisor or manager where you will be responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the entire manufacturing process and that deadlines and quality standards are achieved. This will mean involvement in production planning and control, and the supervision of other members of staff. The skills required for a management or supervisory role include the ability to communicate effectively with a team, strong analytical skills and an understanding of the manufacturing process. Some companies employ Lean Manufacturing and Continuous Improvement principles as a means of controlling expenditure and enhancing quality so knowledge of this can be helpful. A manufacturing/production manager is also responsible for ensuring that the working environment is managed in accordance with health and safety regulations.
Entry into a manufacturing environment normally only requires basic GCSE qualifications although some industries insist on an assessment of practical skills, eyesight and colour vision. There are many apprenticeship programs available, again depending on the specific industry you are entering. To facilitate progression within manufacturing or production, NVQ and SVQ qualifications are also available. There are HNC/HND and degrees available in Manufacturing and these can be specifically related to the industry sector you are working in. Also, the Chartered Management Institute and the Institute of Operations Management offer professionally accredited training courses in a variety of subjects relating to manufacturing and production.
Once you have gained sufficient skills and experience in a manufacturing/production environment, it may be possible to diversify into a quality control role or into related fields such as transport and logistics. There is also the possibility of transferring your skills to an international organization where overseas opportunities may be available.
Author: James Innes