£2.4m company-specific skills programme gets the go ahead

Posted on 17 Oct 2012

A new business support programme for small and medium-sized manufacturers across the North West has been awarded £2.4m by the European Union.

The three-year programme, invested in by The Manufacturing Institute and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), will develop top-level management skills for 900 manufacturers.

The scheme will provide leadership and management classes and company-specific coaching.

This includes Dragons’ Den-style sessions where entrepreneurs and leading figures in industry will provide guidance on development and growth opportunities.

As a result of the business benefit that is expected to emerge from the new support programme, The Manufacturing Institute believes that 1,000 jobs will be created or safeguarded in the region with £10m added to the economy.

The programme will provide the next leaders to take on future challenges such as product development and growth markets, tackling the continuing loss of skills within the manufacturing sector.

Julie Madigan, CEO at The Manufacturing Institute, estimates that 587,000 workers are set to retire from manufacturing over the next decade, and states that “there is an urgent need to drive up skills levels to replace the expertise that the sector will lose” while adding technical and professional skills that are needed to support the advanced manufacturing sector.

Unlike traditional training, the programme aims to take knowledge directly to manufacturers by delivering the classes and coaching on-site, so that the behaviour continues within those manufacturing operations and isn’t left at the college, training centre or hall.

Smaller businesses can often lack the resources and knowledge needed to take their innovation forward, as you can see on Dragon’s Den.

The plan is to develop skills and coach leading individuals to guide their SMEs into bigger companies employing more people in the North West.

A web-based forum will also be developed for manufacturers to share knowledge with each other.

Sir Howard Bernstein, vice chair of the North West European Regional Development Fund Local Management Committee, hopes the project will “strengthen the performance of businesses within such a key sector” in a region fighting high levels unemployment.

In August, 8.8% of the residents in Bootle, near Liverpool, were unemployed and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, compared to just 1.3% in Esher and Walton, one of the richest pockets in Surrey.