New partnerships for the Manufacturing Academy

Posted on 31 Jan 2008 by The Manufacturer

One year after the launch of the National Skills Academy for Manufacturing, new partnerships are still being created.

In just 12 months the National Skills Academy for Manufacturing has validated the skills of over 350 trainers and assessors, and helped companies across the sector select and employ programmes suited to improving the skills of over 700 employees. By doing so it has helped manufacturing employers such as Lotus, Land Rover and The Tanfield Group see real business benefits from better training, and help employees secure valuable nationally-recognised qualifications which they can include in a portfolio of skills throughout their career.
Today, the Skills Academy also announces two new partnerships that will further improve the prosperity for UK manufacturing companies through improving skills.
• The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which represents 80,000 engineers and sets standards throughout the sector, will now validate all training programmes from the Skills Academy. This means the Skills Academy’s courses will now count towards qualification for Incorporated and Chartered Engineer status. It will also become an accredited provider of EngTech and Monitored Professional Development Schemes and roll out the service to client companies.
• WMG, the international research and education group at the University of Warwick, has identified a new methodology for skills development that has already enabled local businesses in the West Midlands to make £25m through increased business and cost savings. The Skills Academy is working with WMG to disseminate this approach to employers and learning providers throughout the UK manufacturing sector.

The Skills Academy was set up last January in response to the recommendations of the 2006 Leitch Review. This called for a focus on demand-led skills (skills and training programmes developed in-line with the requirements of manufacturing employers) and a less confusing training market that offered clear pathways to world class skills that could boost the UK economy. As a result, the Skills Academy has focused much of its first year on engaging with manufacturing employers across the UK – more than 250 to date – to better understand what industry wants from training content and providers. It has also begun identifying existing examples of world class skills development and delivery – the pockets of excellence which need to be recognised and promoted as best practice. By doing so it is already starting to deliver an independent national standard for manufacturing training preparation, content, delivery and follow-up.
Bob Gibbon, Managing Director of the National Skills Academy for Manufacturing, said: “We have achieved a great deal at the National Skills Academy for Manufacturing in a year. We have gone direct to over 250 businesses, throughout England and NI, to develop the training that industry needs to prosper economically on the world stage. We have identified, championed and begun integrating examples of quality manufacturing training. Critically, we have become the organisation offering employers and employees a clearer pathway for using better manufacturing skills to boost productivity and growth for the sector and the economy. Our success is vital for the future of the industry in the UK and we are already making an impact. We expect to make a bigger one in 2008 as we start to roll out new training products that we have developed with the sector to benefit business.”
Working at both a regional and national level with a wide range of industry partners the Skills Academy is setting the skills agenda for manufacturing in the UK. Through a team of regional managers and advisory groups made up of key manufacturers in each region it is establishing a safeguard against poor training, content and delivery. It is a beacon for security for manufacturing employers that don’t know where to find quality products or providers. Highlights of the impact is has had in the past year already include:
• Worked with automotive manufacturer Group Lotus in Norfolk to identify the right training for 300 employees. The first 17 have already been awarded the prestigious NVQ for Business-Improvement Techniques Level 2.
• Helped Tyne and Wear’s Tanfield Group to improve productivity by over 1000%. It helped identify manufacturing training for a new work-force, helping over 200 employees improve their skills.
• Launched a new “cluster” initiative in the South West with Airbus, Honda and Swindon College to support local SME firms to enhance skills and boost business performance.
• Helped Land Rover’s West Midlands plant train up more than 50 employees all of whom have now achieved an industry recognised certification.
The Skills Academy is already making a real difference to the businesses with which it working, ensuring employers see real economic benefits from their investment in better workforce skills.
“In September 2006 we were building 70 machines a month,” says Geoff Allison, Plant Manager at Tanfield. “In October 2007 we built in the region of 700. A lot of that is down to the growing workforce, but we would not have achieved this so quickly or so faultlessly without the guidance of the National Skills Academy for Manufacturing. Its support has accelerated our huge productivity gains.”
But it is not just the employers who are seeing the benefit of the Skills Academy’s support. Employees are now able to boast world-class training and nationally-recognised qualifications that will stay with them throughout their careers.
Gary Dutton, an employee at Land Rover who undertook the training identified by the Skills Academy, said, “The NVQ taught me how to review parts of our process in a way which lends itself to identifying and solving problems. It took four weeks to complete the course but I did all the learning on site. This means that as you learn the theory of B-IT you are able to immediately able start putting it into practice in your own working environment.”