Demise of Skilled Traditional Manufacturing

The lecture this week focused on the demise of skilled traditional manufacturing, the causes and the effects. These traditional skills are disappearing with less being made in Britain.

The traditional skills focus on craft and graft. Time is taken to learn the techniques and they are honed over a lifetime and passed down generations. In today’s market there is a perceived value to these skills with a handmade product from a heritage brand selling for a relatively large amount of money. A lot of these prices are driven my market value of history.

An example that was given in the lecture – Trickers . They make beautiful handmade shoes. The shoes are crafted with over 250 different operations by unique specialist skilled craftsmen. The quality of these shoes is possibly unmatched. However these skills cost money with each pair of shoes costing from £650. These objects have a great amount of beauty and are at the very high end of the spectrum but can a £650 pair of shoes be considered responsible design? I think there is the same brilliance and quality in responsible and sustainable mass manufacturing.


I feel that these skills should not be lost but there is this perception and link between the words skilled and traditional. Does a manufacturing method need to be traditional to be classed as a skill? What classifies as a traditional skill? Can new responsible and innovative techniques in manufacturing be classed as skilful and also celebrated? They should be. Accessibility to new manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing is increasing, creating a whole new set of skills and techniques that a new generation can learn and earn a living from.

A visit to CAModels opened my eyes recently. They are a company based in Stirling and are a market leader in the Product Development industry working with machines and techniques I had never even imagined. Government money would be wisely invested in these areas.

One of the questions here is about value. Are the perceived value of these traditions just or should the same value and celebration be placed on modern and future techniques and innovation?

One way to keep traditional manufacturing techniques alive is through the sharing of knowledge and making connections. Scotland is full of many amazing people with innovative techniques.  One amazing project is currently connecting creative professionals to these people and companies  and is called Make Works  It is brilliant.

Stromness, Orkney Islands

Team Make Works | Photo Credit: Rob Howard 

All making and manufacturing should be celebrated, whether technological or craft. The new industrial  revolution will make man the maker. Through greater access to technology and sharing of techniques, craft and manufacturing can make a comeback.


photocredit – bespoke shoes unlaced – a shoemaking blog