The British Metallurgical Plant Constructors’ Association (BMPCA) called for more UK government support in encouraging school leavers into manufacturing industries.

BMPCA chairman Kevin Parkin told its annual dinner that the UK manufacturing industry was the world’s sixth largest and generates about £500bn/y and half of the country’s export earnings.

But with many experts suggesting the UK had changed from a manufacturing-based economy to a service based structure, students are no longer considering manufacturing jobs.

Mr Parkin said the need to reintroduce core technology and engineering skills to the secondary curriculum and school leavers should be encouraged to at least consider vocational apprenticeships as an alternative to university.

He added that the nuclear-build programme will generate 10000 manufacturing jobs in the next decade and that UK industry should grasp the opportunity by aligning people, skills and resources.

About 200 people attended the lunch which included a presentation by guest speaker Richard Cabon, MP for Sheffield Central who spoke about creating a low carbon fund for new companies or projects involved in manufacturing.

The BMPCA is the trade association that represents companies providing equipment and services to the metallurgical industry, from the design and supply of melting furnaces and rolling mills, to the provision of engineering, consultancy and maintenance services.