More than 300 students from years nine and 12 at Leeds’ Temple Moor High School had the chance to interrogate a panel of manufacturing industry insiders about careers in the sector last month, at Leeds Manufacturing Festival’s live careers panel.
A variety of roles and industries were represented among the four-strong panel of experts, who had come together to share their knowledge, talk about their own career paths in the industry and take questions from the students about the realities of working in manufacturing.
Arnie Ellison, business director at packaging and labels manufacturer OPM, was joined by Tyra Jones, who is now planning team leader at fluid engineering firm Sulzer after joining the business as a mechanical engineering apprentice in 2016.
Also on the panel were Eleanor McGuire, chemical process operator at specialist building adhesives manufacturer, Sika Everbuild, and winner of last year’s ‘Rising Star’ trophy at the Leeds Manufacturing Festival Awards; and James Marr, team leader for shipping and stock control at MPM, which manufactures glass-reinforced plastic moulds.
The students had plenty of questions for the panel members and the wide ranging discussion touched on issues that covered almost every aspect of working in manufacturing.
Topics included who or what had inspired the panel members to pursue a career in manufacturing, what projects they were most proud of, how workload and deadlines were managed, and how problems at work were dealt with.
They went on to discuss skills, qualifications and career paths and talked in depth about the diverse range of career options available in manufacturing, looking in detail at the different roles on offer and what they involve, including shopfloor positions, as well as managerial, administrative, technical and professional roles.
The discussion concluded with a look at the next steps students could take towards working in manufacturing or engineering, from where to find out more about manufacturing to what makes a good CV, what turns employers off from hiring someone, and what careers advice the panellists wished they had been given when they were younger.
All the panellists were impressed by the students’ keenness to find out more about manufacturing. “The students were so engaged and they asked some great questions,” said Eleanor McGuire from Sika. “The interaction between us and the students was really good," agreed MPM’s James Marr. “They were keen to find out more.”
The event was organised by Ahead Partnership, which connects young people with businesses to help equip them for future careers.
Find out about upcoming Leeds Manufacturing Festival events here.