The programme offers engineers the chance to develop the green and future engineering skills, such as working with innovative materials, needed to create new products and technologies over the next few decades.
JLR originally developed the scheme to raise the skill levels among its own employees, with over 1,000 engineers going through the programme during a two-year period, but a pilot scheme is set to be in operation across the West Midlands with plans to expand the programme across the across the UK.
The Advanced Skills Accreditation Scheme offers supply chain companies access to Master’s level education tailored to their business needs from a network of universities.
The new scheme is expected to involve engineers from more than 2,000 companies in England taking 5,000 Master’s Degree module places over the next two years.
JLR’s executive director Mike Wright said: “JLR has already begun the largest advanced engineering skills programme in the UK to help deliver our low carbon vehicles of the future. We are planning for more than half of our 6,000 engineers to take part in the programme. If UK companies are going to be able to compete successfully in the future, we need to raise the skill levels throughout the supply chain and UK manufacturing as a whole.”
The sector-wide skills programme, led by the sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies Semta, is being supported through the Government’s Growth and Innovation Fund. Through the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, £1m is being injected to enable the expansion of the ASAS education scheme, based on the programme developed by JLR in partnership with English universities.
Lynn Tomkins, Semta’s director of operations, believes that the programme will transform Higher Education opportunities for all employers, particularly small and medium enterprises.
“It is important that employees from all backgrounds with the aptitude to develop skills are given the opportunity, which is why not basing access to master’s level training purely on academic ability makes this programme unique.”
The education scheme is designed so that participants can select from more than 50 course modules covering different advanced skills and technologies – such as hybrid technology or sustainable powertrains – which then count towards a qualification up to a Master’s level degree.
The scheme is run by Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick and delivered through collaboration with a network of leading Universities, with each module delivered by a University chosen for its research expertise in a given topic.
The Advanced Skills Accreditation Scheme (ASAS) was formally launched by Business Secretary Vince Cable at JLR’s product development centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire.
“This is the sort of innovative idea that will help address the crippling shortage of trained engineers in the UK,” he said. “It’s fantastic that JLR sees benefit not just of making itself competitive but also collaborating across the sector to help make British advanced manufacturing increasingly competitive.