Make It – Having Fun and Changing Perceptions

A series of special Make It school challenges – part funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company –  are having a big impact on convincing teenagers that manufacturing could be a career for them. Ran by The Manufacturing Institute, the North West Championship Make It heats were aimed at changing young peoples’ views of the sector.  Running alongside the Institute’s annual series of Make It challenges, which are sponsored by a range of manufacturing companies, more than 1,500 13 and 14 year-olds took part in hands-on events in Merseyside, Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Abu Dhabi. The 22 challenges involved 167 schools and tasked young people with projects ranging from designing a new aircraft to coming up with a new breakfast cereal.  The teenagers formed their own mini-manufacturing companies, and worked with a range of industry experts and advocates from businesses large and small. 

After five individual Championship heats the Grand Final winners were Tauheedul Islam Girls High School in Blackburn with runners up St Thomas More RC High School in Crewe.  The winners of the traditional Make It Challenge Grand Final were Penwortham Girl’s School who wowed the judges with their enthusiasm and creativity despite having just five team members instead of eight.  And now 63 per cent of all the youngsters taking part would consider a career in manufacturing. 


Said Stephanie Boyle who runs the Make It Challenges for the Manchester-based Institute: “We’re delighted that our challenges have had such a big impact on teenagers who had never previously thought that manufacturing might be the route for them. They worked hard, had fun and really enjoyed competing against other schools.

“The CEF North West Championships really captured the imagination of our students.”

One of the biggest successes of the project featured two special Make It Challenges in Abu Dhabi which were sponsored by BAE Systems.  Focusing on STEM subjects, the competition aimed to inspire the next generation of Emirati youth about the exciting employment opportunities that engineering and manufacturing can offer. 

The Make It team are also delighted that some teenagers who shone in the challenges have since been offered work experience placements at companies like Kellogg’s.

Manufacturing applications engineer John Grimshaw, who heaped out as a ‘dragon’ at the NW Championships Grand Final said: “There were over a 100 kids taking part and every single one was a superstar! It’s a great thing for employers to take part in. 

“In two years I’ll be looking for apprentices and I was looking around and thinking ‘who is the best here?’ I could easily have employed 80% of them. 

“I would encourage anyone employed in manufacturing to come and take part in a Make It Challenge.  You’ll feel like the stupidest person in the room – but you’ll love it! “

Lore Emerson, marketing manager at CoolKit added: “I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in this year’s Make It In Manufacturing competition. Working closely with the students is a rewarding expertise which I felt privileged to be a part of.  

“As a manufacturing employer in our local area, we understand the requirements to look after and educate the future generation.

“CoolKit, and myself, will be eager to carry on the relationship with the Manufacturing Institute and create many more fun and interacting days for future Make It In Manufacturing events.”

The Manufacturing Institute is looking for partners from manufacturing companies of all sizes.
If you would like to sponsor a Make It Challenge – or run your own event – contact Aimee McGloin on 0161 875 2525 or email her at



Leave a Reply