Survey: French attitudes to Industry
The survey conducted by Ifop in 2012 for the Fives' Plants of the Future Observatory delivers a serious-minded rebuttal of the pervading perceptions of industry.
A clear grasp of industrial realities, a desire for more information and a belief in the future: the French have great affection for their industry and are convinced of its ability to reinvent itself.
A clear grasp of the reality of industry in France
Far from allowing themselves to be misled by generally downbeat and negative pervading perceptions, those French adults interviewed as part of this survey showed a realistic and clear grasp of the strengths and weaknesses of French industry.
Whilst 65% of French people are aware that industry today is not seen as an attractive sector of the economy by young people, 68% feel that French industry is not competitive with that of other countries, and 54% believe that it complies with current environmental constraints.
The French have great affection for their industrial base!
The French retain a relatively positive perception of what an industrial plant is and the technological contribution it makes to society: 86% believe that plants are the focus for many different technologies, and 82% believe that they are an integral part of French heritage and centers of value creation.
The survey also reveals other reassuring data: the French have a positive view of the people and values associated with industrial plants, with words like innovation (95%), work (90%), engineer (90%), company (90%), worker (81%) and plant (61%) being perceived as positive terms by the great majority of the French population.
The strength of this attachment to industry can also be seen in the realistic and clear perceptions of the French in relation to social problems: whilst 65% believe that workers enjoy better working conditions than in the past, and 70% that they occupy skilled jobs, 63% believe, conversely, that the worker/management relationship is not a good one.
A desire for more information as the basis for a new attitude to industry
This is one of the most surprising outcomes of the survey: far from current received insight, the French are very keen to learn more about industry and the inner world of industrial plants. 86% believe that the general public doesn’t know enough about what happens in industrial plants. 62% even feel that they have been wrongly informed, and nearly 80% say that they would like to be better informed.
Furthermore, some survey outcomes that initially appear paradoxical are actually the direct consequence of this lack of information about the world of industry.
More specifically, it is not so much the quantity of information that matters here, but rather its quality: what the French population wants is a new attitude to industrial plants that is more in line with their own concerns and far removed from the ‘pre-packaged thinking’ prevalent in the media and politics. Nearly 70% of French people believe that not enough time is spent talking about industry and re-industrialization in France. And that's saying something when you realize that this survey was conducted during the recent presidential campaign!
The French are optimistic about industry and believe in its future
When asked about the industrial plants of tomorrow, 88% of the French population believes that they must be innovative, whilst 85% say that they should be international, 81% that they should be energy-saving, 77% that they should be clean, and 74% that they should be safe. Whilst 81% think that French industry is currently going downhill, 86% believe that it has a future if it concentrates on advanced industry sectors.
Similarly, 81% of the French population believes that industry cannot seriously contemplate the future without an international dimension. The bottom line is that 73% of the French population has faith in the future of French industry.