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Alliance aims to improve manufacturing skills

25 August, 2009

Five sector skills councils have launched an initiative to improve access to quality training and development for manufacturing employers in the UK.

The initiative, known as the Manufacturing Skills Alliance, has the following priorities:
•    to co-ordinate the approach to labour market intelligence so that colleges and training providers get clear demand signals;
•    to support development of the UK Talent Plan to provide easier access to skills information, and to strengthen links with Manufacturing Insight, which will promote manufacturing careers;
•    to develop a coherent set of programmes to meet the current and future needs of manufacturing employers and to improve transferability for individuals;
•    to adopt a common approach in higher education to help increase employer engagement in innovation and knowledge transfer; and
•     to support manufacturing through the recession to ensure readiness for the upturn.

Juergen Maier, managing director of Siemens’ Industry division in the UK (above), has welcomed plans. “It can be difficult for companies to understand what support is available from where,” he says. “Despite the recession, skills in engineering and science will, in the medium term, be in short supply. 40% of our engineering workforce is aged over 45.

“As downsizing prompts early retirements,” Maier adds, “older workers are likely to leave in greater numbers and take their skills with them. We need to ensure our existing workforce has the right skills and create a pipeline of talent by stimulating school children’s interest in engineering, science and manufacturing from an early age.”

The Manufacturing Skills Alliance – which consists of Cogent, Improve, Proskills, Semta and Skillfast-UK – has already started on several projects, including a productivity and competitiveness programme. A pilot project saw 14 companies go through the programme, with an average £93,000 increase in profitability. 

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