How about an 'Open Doors' weekend for UK manufacturers?
By Hamish Champ
Posted 5 October 2012
Like a lot of people – OK, me and a few mainly middle-aged blokes – I will often peer through the little square holes cut into building site hoardings to see what’s going on on the other side.
There is something fascinating, almost mesmeric, about observing the progress of construction work; the foundations being dug, the precision of the steelwork laying-down and the subsequent slow but inexorable rise of the new building.
I come into London Bridge railway station every day on my way to work and over the last two and a bit years I’ve watched the Shard, which now towers over the station’s platforms, inch its way to becoming the tallest building in Europe. Marvellous stuff.
So I reckon the construction industry’s ‘Open Doors’ weekend, being held next month and aimed at generating a greater appreciation of what the sector is capable of, is a pretty nifty idea.
True, some of the buildings covered by the event, such as the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park in London, have already been put up.
But there will doubtless be active building work going on among some of the 91 sites, where people can see what it takes to do the job and at closer hand than they’ve been able before.
Yes, there will be inevitable health and safety issues to observe. But the exercise will open many people’s eyes as to what can be achieved in the construction sector.
It might even trigger a young ‘un’s interest to the point that he or she decides to look into a career in the business. And that is another reason to commend the project.
I wonder if more in the manufacturing sector could do something along similar lines. I know some companies already arrange visits for schoolchildren, but there is surely wider potential.
I appreciate that the last thing an overstretched plastics processor might want is hordes of visitors traipsing across the shop floor, but if manufacturers – and in particular plastics manufacturers – want a greater appreciation of what they do then inviting members of the public into their facilities (as well as their local MP) might just be a good way to start.
And it might sow a seed in the mind of a young person that a life in manufacturing isn't so bad.
The Fakuma trade event is just around the corner and there they have an open day where German families can be seen gawping in wide-eyed wonder at all sorts of machinery and gadgets.
I realise there is a world of difference between visiting a trade fair and wandering around a machine shop, but you get the idea.
So, a ‘Manufacturing Open Doors Weekend’. How about it?
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