Whatever happened to factory tours of old?

Comment by Peter Roberts

One of the biggest complaints made by manufacturers is that few young people are interested in a career in manufacturing.

But perhaps they are not the probblem?

When I was in short pants South Australian schools took children on factory tours, and I can still recall the former Chrysler car plant and Actil cotton weaving mill.

Where once we spawned a generation interested in how things are made, OHS concerns and just plain ‘can’t be bothered’ by manufacturers mean kids grow up never seeing inside a factory.

Adelaide chocolate maker Haigh’s is one that has kept up the tradition of factory tours, allowing consumers and tourists alike to visit their small Parkside facility.

The company recently spent $10 million expanding its Mile End plant, but instead of closing Parkside, it has refitted and relaunched the factory tour experience.

Yesterday SA Governor, Hieu Van Le opened the new showroom where visitors marshal for tours, with most tempted to take more than a little something home.

The factory itself is rather simple, a few machines and production lines, men and women individually hand-decorating chocolates and signage to show what is being produced at the time.

But the experience reinforces the company brand of care in the making and quality that has seen Haigh’s expand while others such as Koko Black, Max Brenner and Darrel Lea have faltered.

Perhaps if other manufacturers took a leaf out of Haigh’s playbook we might see more kids thinking of a manufacturing career?

Picture: Haigh’s/making chocolates in 1928.

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