Manufacturing Production Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Manufacturing production managers ensure that goods are produced efficiently, at the right quality, quantity and cost, and that they are produced on time. They may be working on anything from cars or aeroplane parts to medicines or food products. In some jobs, they are known as operations managers.

Depending on where they work, production managers may be involved in:

  • Forward planning.
  • Drawing up production schedules.
  • Estimating how long a job will take.
  • Monitoring the production process.
  • Working out the resources required and how many people are needed to do a job.
  • Setting standards for quality.
  • Supervising and motivating employees.

Before production starts (the pre-production stage) they may be involved with selecting and designing equipment, the layout of the factory or plant, forecasting demand and ordering materials.

Once production starts they may then be responsible for the control of the production process (the order in which things are done), controlling stock, health and safety issues. The job also involves dealing with people, including training and disciplinary issues.

Production managers usually work 37 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. However this is not a nine-to-five job, and it may be necessary to work shifts and unsocial hours including evenings and weekends, particularly if there are tight deadlines to be met or new systems are introduced.

The work is mainly office based but some of a production manager's time is spent on the factory floor carrying out inspections and meeting supervisory staff and workers. Protective clothing may need to be worn in production areas. Production managers are normally based on one site, but some may be responsible for production at several locations, which may involve travel and time away from home.

Conditions in factories vary, but many are clean, light and airy.

The starting salary is around £18,500 to £23,000.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

The manufacturing sector employs around 3.5 million people. Most of the 26,000 manufacturing companies in the UK would employ a manufacturing production manager. Opportunities can be found all over the country, particularly in large cities.

Some sectors of the industry and well-known employers include:

Automobile Manufacturing - Ford, Honda, Nissan.

Aerospace - BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce.

Pharmaceuticals - GlaxoSmithKline, Boots.

Food Processing - Cadbury, Schweppes, Nestle

There is a growing demand for people with higher-level technical qualifications in industries such as engineering, electronics, food manufacturing and information technology. Employers have found some vacancies difficult to fill due to a lack of candidates with the right qualifications, experience and background.

Jobs in traditional fields of manufacturing such as shipbuilding and some automotive plants have decreased, although production managers with transferable skills may be able to move to other industries. These industries may also be growing their business in new areas such as designing, developing and manufacturing components.

Jobs are advertised in trade journals such as Production Engineering Solutions and Control, as well as local and national newspapers and in Jobcentre Plus offices.

Education and Training

Entry qualifications vary according to the company and the amount of responsibility of the job.

Manufacturing production managers normally need considerable experience before taking up the full responsibilities that the job demands. Most people in the industry have worked in related roles such as supervisor before going on to manage the whole process.

Most people who enter this profession today have a foundation degree, degree or higher national certificate/diploma (HNC/HND) and start as a trainee manager. A wide variety of degrees are acceptable, including engineering, science, business and management. A few universities offer a degree in production management. Some degrees and HND's include industrial placements. Postgraduate courses are also available in operations management.

Entry qualifications for degree courses are at least five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) and two or three A levels/four H grades, normally including maths and a science subject, or equivalent qualifications.

It may be possible to start out as an apprentice in a related field and work your way up after several years of experience and taking further courses.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Larger companies may have graduate management training schemes, which may combine work experience and training in different parts of the organisation.

The Institute of Operations Management (IOM) offers a variety of qualifications including:

  • Certificate in Operations Management, which provides the foundation needed for the profession.
  • Diploma in Operations Management, which is aimed at managers already working in the field.
  • Advanced Diploma in Operations Management, which combines a broad foundation in research and project techniques.

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and the Institute of Leadership and Management also offer a range of qualifications. NVQ's/SVQ's are available at various levels, for example:

- Management at Levels 3,4 and 5
- Project Management at Levels 4 and 5
- Operational Management at Level 5

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A manufacturing production manager should be able to:

  • Work to deadlines.
  • Solve problems.
  • Think on their feet.
  • Think logically and systematically.
  • Work with numbers and computers.
  • Communicate well with other people and motivate them.
  • Organise and co-ordinate people and equipment.
  • Accept responsibility.

Your Long Term Prospects

It is possible to progress to become a senior production manager in a large firm. This may involve a more strategic role estimating capacity, co-ordinating the work of planners and supervisors, liaising with buyers, sales and engineering staff.

Opportunities for self-employment are limited, but it is possible to work as a consultant, advising how to implement new manufacturing and production systems.

Get Further Information

Chartered Management Institute, 3rd Floor,
2 Savoy Court, Strand, London WC2R 0EZ
Tel: 020 7497 0580
Website: www.managers.org.uk

The Institute of Operations Management (IOM),
University of Warwick Science Park,
Sir William Lyons Road, Coventry CV4 7EZ
Tel: 024 7669 2266
Website: www.iomnet.org.uk

SEMTA (Science, Engineering and
Manufacturing Technologies Alliance),
14 Upton Road, Watford WD18 0JT
Tel: 01923238441
Website: www.semta.org.uk

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