Six skills needed to launch your career in manufacturing

Manufacturing workers use a huge range of skills in their jobs and are adept at learning new ones.

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The government’s National Careers Service draws attention to the different roles that are available in manufacturing, and the fact that different jobs need different skills. Some require maths and science, others more practical skills, and many need a mix of things, including problem-solving ability and an interest in how things work – So let’s take a look at six key skills for manufacturing.

1.      Teamwork

You’ll have to work with others to get things done and understand your part in a process that may involve lots of different stages. So it helps if you are able to work well with other people, appreciating their input, as well as making a positive contribution yourself.

2. Ability to think logically

You’ll frequently need to assess different approaches and decide logically on the pros and cons of each. This is especially true if you’re working on a team that is doing something new. Similarly, if you can think through a process systematically, you can often make it more efficient.

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3.      Maths and science skills

Not all manufacturing jobs require a high level of maths and science, although engineering obviously does. But most manufacturing jobs need people who aren’t afraid of technology – who are willing to look at something, figure out how it works and perhaps how it could work better.

4.      Curiosity about how things work

Take a basic product – say a steel spiral duct steel spiral duct of the sort used in air conditioning systems. You need to be the sort of person who says Why is it spiral? Why is it galvanised? Why is it steel? What’s good and bad about it? Where does it fit in the whole system? What’s it for? Is there a better way to do what it does?

5.      Flexibility

If someone asks you to design a system that doesn’t need a steel spiral duct, you have to be the kind of person who can think flexibly while working within that kind of constraint.

6.      Problem solving

This is closely linked to creativity as key skills that are needed at every level of manufacturing, from the design engineer working on computer simulations, to the operator on the plant floor.

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