We’ve all heard about the skills shortage, with reports suggesting that although the number of job vacancies is set to rise, there is a lack of candidates with the sufficient skills for the job.
The same reports also claim there will be a skills gap in the manufacturing industry, which would surely affect producers.
There are courses available, whether it is a degree, foundation degree or apprenticeship, for those who want to break into the plastics industry. So why, then, are there reports of a skills shortage/gap?
It could be the image of the plastics industry, or rather a lack of an image.
Personally, I studied Design Technology from the age of 11 until I was 14 but that’s where it stopped. It didn’t seem to interest me whatsoever. That might be because I’ve no creativity and can’t design anything to save my life, and when it came to using the machines I was competent – at a push. But it could also be the lack of knowledge about applications.
I was never told why I was making something, apart from that I had to as part of the curriculum. There was no focus on how the different machines worked or how different materials’ properties allow them to be used in different situations and contexts.
I recently wrote a blog about ETFE and its applications in stadiums and arenas across the world. I knew nothing about it before and certainly didn’t know the multitude of uses it could lend itself to. The same probably goes for loads of other things like smartphones and other gadgets. Although it’s not plastics related, the video 'A Day Made of Glass' is a fantastic example of applications.
Now, finding out how ETFE is used got me really intrigued, but it didn’t spark a passion for me becoming part of the plastics industry. On the other hand, had I known about how something like that could be applied to everyday life when I was younger, it might have captured my interests a bit more.