Tackling manufacturing’s image problem through policy

With funding from InterAct, the IfM’s Dr Guendalina Anzolin and Dr Jennifer Castañeda Navarrete together with Dr Dalila Ribaudo of Aston University, have produced the report: 'How to make manufacturing charming again? It is everything, everywhere, all at once.' The report aims to examine the public perception of manufacturing, the factors influencing it, and how it has evolved in the past decade.


Outdated perceptions

Fewer young people want to pursue a career in manufacturing than before, yet the sector remains central to the UK economy. Without widespread public knowledge of the diversity of highly skilled roles that keep the sector competitive and thriving, as well as of efforts to encourage more women to work in manufacturing, outdated perceptions will continue to steer people away.


"In a world where perceptions shape industries and policies, understanding the narrative surrounding manufacturing is crucial," says Jennifer.


Through analysis of prominent narratives, the researchers help identify what some of these perceptions are, and set out recommendations for how to create more truthful and engaging narratives, including efforts to:


  • Carry out systematic collections of data on perceptions of manufacturing, annually or every two years;
  • Monitor policy developments on manufacturing by leveraging the manufacturing observatory;
  • Set measurable targets for improved diversity in manufacturing; and
  • Provide education and career information about the manufacturing sector from the early stages.


The findings draw upon a systematic review of academic, grey and policy literature across seven historically and currently significant manufacturing nations: the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and the United States.


You can download the full report here.

Date published

23 January 2024

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