Tuesday, April 24, 2018

News: Driving the skills agenda

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In addition to showcasing science, technology and engineering to young people, parents and educators, the recent Get up to Speed (GUTS) event in Rotherham brought together a number of key figures to discuss the manufacturing workforce, now and in the future.

The event, driven by employers and delivered through The work-wise Foundation, is now believed to be the largest of its kind in the North. It started in 2011 and moved to its home at the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham in 2015.

Kicking off the day at a business breakfast, Master Cutler, Kenneth Cooke, the owner of CTW (Hardfacing) Ltd, said that the drive by employers to establish the event showed that they "understood the need to promote industry, both nationally and within the area."

The guests heard of the shortage of skilled engineers in the region and the country. 186,000 new engineers are required nationally per year between now and 2024 to fill the expected skills gap.

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John Bohan, senior director, engineering & manufacturing at Rotherham's Elevation Recruitment Group discussed the impact of skills shortages and described how the GUTS event was key to "inspiring the next generation, but also leading to conversations about how we drive forward the skills agenda."

And as Will Stirling, editor of The Manufacturing Review (pictured top, right), said: "If the local engineering sector doesn't come together to do this, then who will? It is unlikely to be the Government or schools."

The event, which attracts over 2,000 attendees, is delivered through The work-wise Foundation. Headline sponsors for this year were Liberty Speciality Steels, Cooper Brown Enterprises and Careers Y&H, with other event sponsors including the likes of AESSEAL, Doncasters Bramah, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Santander and Elevation Recruitment Group.

The business breakfast also brought together a panel comprising of David Richards CBE, chairman of Prodrive and chairman of the UK Motor Sports Association (MSA), Julie Kenny CBE DL, the entrepreneur who built the successful Pyronix company in Rotherham, and Rachel Abbot, managing director of Cobra Sport Performance Exhaust Systems.

The panel discussed a number of issues including recruitment concerns, inspiring young people, and especially women, into engineering, evolving a business and investing in skills.

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Richard Caborn, president of the work-wise Foundation, said: "Events like this are not just recognised as an "add-on" but are integral to the skills agenda.

"We are 13,000 engineers short in this region and it will cost us if we don't address this and get it right.

"It's why the Government has asked us to double the number of apprentices at the AMRC Training Centre. We'll soon see a snotty-nosed kid from the Manor estate or Parson's Cross who will come out with a PhD in engineering. That is social mobility on a scale we've not seen in this country."

David Richards gave the keynote speech to discuss his aims for using motorsport as hook to attract people into engineering, similar to how GUTS has used speed for its attractions - the Bloodhound supersonic car, McLaren supercars and Rolls-Royce jet engines.

Richards (pictured top, centre) said: "This is a credit to Sheffield and Rotherham. I wish there were events like this when I was leaving school."

GUTS website

Images: GUTS / Andrew Klinkenberg

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