PRIMARY school children in Coventry and Warwickshire should be introduced to the wonders of manufacturing and engineering to help inspire the next generation of industry professionals.
That was one of the key messages that a group of regional business leaders raised with MPs during a visit to Parliament.
The event, organised by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, saw 22 businesspeople from the regional Manufacturing, Automotive, Construction and Engineering (MACE) sectors head to Parliament to discuss issues facing their industries.
They ranged from rising prices and a shortage of materials to issues with trade on the back of Brexit and the growing skills gap.
MPs from both sides of the House of Commons Chamber including Matt Western, MP for Warwick and Leamignton, were there.
The gathered business leaders also heard from Graham Stuart MP, the Minister for Climate, who said that the drive to net zero should not only be positive news for the environment but also for British businesses and the UK economy.
Tom Mongan, the president of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “I am proud to hold this role and I am proud to be representing manufacturing.
“We are seeing an unprecedented range of issues facing businesses in this sector in Coventry and Warwickshire and it was great to be able to take them to Parliament and have our voices heard by MPs from our region, elsewhere and Ministers too.
“I would really like to see the perception of the industry changed. Many still think it is dirty, greasy and messy and that it requires no skill. Every single person working in manufacturing and engineering knows that isn’t true – but we need everyone else to know.
“We are trying to change the views of 15 and 16-year-olds and their families when they have made up their mind about what they want to do. We need to get to kids at primary age and show them how much fun, how interesting and rewarding our industry is.
“I would say to the mainstream media, please help us. When soap operas introduce a character that works in manufacturing, they only ever show someone who works as a car mechanic as if that is where the industry starts and ends, while those who are seen as successful usually work in an office in a suit.
“There is nothing wrong with either of those but we really do need to start making people understand what we do in manufacturing and what an incredible career it can be.
“You only have to look in Coventry and Warwickshire at the amazing businesses and the amazing skills we have to know what the industry offers.”