Recently I've had the honour of recognising the achievements of a group of young people who are tipped to be the next big thing in their field. These young people work in sectors from automotive and aerospace to clothing and creative industries, represent companies of all sizes from up and down the country and have followed a range of career paths to get to their current positions. They are the Make it in Great Britain 30 Under 30 - 30 young rising stars who work in the manufacturing industry, aged under 30.
Careers in manufacturing are hugely varied, and as such the industry is in constant need of a wide range of skills in order to meet demand and ensure that the UK manufacturing industry remains truly world-class. When we launched the Make it in Great Britain campaign, which aims to transform the image of modern manufacturing, one of our key objectives was to make young people aware of the wealth of career opportunities that exist within the industry. For example Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering, manufacturing and technology, forecasts that the UK marine sector needs to recruit 1,000 engineers, scientists and technologists between now and 2016, while the food and drink industry will need 137,000 new recruits by 2017.
In order to highlight the opportunities on offer and demonstrate the fact that the manufacturing industry offers rewarding, lucrative careers, we launched a search to find young people who are already enjoying the benefits of a job in manufacturing. These young people - the Make it in Great Britain 30 Under 30 - have now been selected, and over the coming weeks and months will share their experiences in order to inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
Looking through the nominations, the judges and I were pleased to see how many talented, enthusiastic, dedicated, young workers there currently are working in the manufacturing industry. Our 30 Under 30 include people like Kai Burkitt of BAE Systems, who at just 24 has already competed in a WorldSkills competition and now acts as a mentor for other WorldSkills competitors; and Natalie Desty of Matchtech, who has shown real passion for the industry by joining a working party that is seeking solutions to the skills gaps of the future.
These young people are making a positive impact not only on the companies that they work for, but on the industry as a whole. Manufacturing currently employs around 2.5million people - that's about 8 per cent of total UK employment. Manufacturing is a national success story and vital to our plans for economic growth, and to ensure that it stays that way we need to be encouraging bright school leavers and graduates into the industry.
We hope that through Make it in Great Britain we will reach the next generation of engineers, designers and technicians and inspire them to consider a career in the industry and fulfil their potential in manufacturing.
For further information about Make it in Great Britain and how you can get involved, visit www.bis.gov.uk/makeitingreatbritain