Industry 4.0: manufacturers should sell the benefits of a manufacturing career –

On the other hand, short-term shocks such as Covid-19 and Brexit have hit the manufacturing sector hard. These unexpected crises require fast decision-making and creative solutions to maintain financial and operational resilience.

One constant throughout this turmoil has been people and talent. For decades industrial manufacturers have been able to rely on a stable and committed workforce, equipped with the right skills to adapt to change. Workforce stability is predicated on being able to attract and retain a pipeline of talent that begins with school leavers, apprentices, and entry level roles.

Earlier this year, prior to the onset of Covid -19, Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, asked 100 leading industrial manufacturers in Germany about their talent management priorities, and 100 young people currently in education about their career aspirations. The results show attitudes towards apprenticeships are noticeably shifting.

The research busts a commonly held myth: that apprenticeships will underpin the future success of the German manufacturing industry. Instead, manufacturers are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain apprentices, and young people find apprenticeships a less attractive career option compared with other options available to them.

For example, fewer than two-thirds (59%) of the HR and talent leaders surveyed believe that apprenticeships now provide young people with the same opportunity to pursue a rewarding career as a university degree.

Attracting and retaining apprentices: a hidden challenge?

Germany’s apprenticeship system has long been touted as a global success story. According to figures released by Germany’s Federal Statistical Office, more than half a