The Manufacturer Podcast: Skills & People Series, Episode 5

Posted on 1 Apr 2022 by Tom St John

Tom, Joe and Lanna return for this week's episode of The Manufacturer Podcast - the penultimate episode in the Skills & People Series.

Welcome back, listener. In this episode – we have Engineering Technician Degree Apprentice at BMW UK Manufacturing, Joshua Simpson. JJ, as he’s known, now in his third year, chats to us about his experiences so far, and how he’s excelled in his role by being encouraged and well nurtured at BMW, but also by being pro-active and eager for responsibility.

Floriane Fidegnon from Policy Connect believes there is no straight forward answer to whether or not the current education system is fit for purpose. Listen to her discuss some of the reasons why it’s been challenging to attract young people in to the industry.

Then to round things off, the editorial team talk about changing work landscape with the introduction of more digital and flexible working patterns – and why it’s so crucial for employers to apply trust and compassion during adverse times.

That’s all crammed into this week’s episode


JJ Simpson

Joshua Simpson, Apprentice at BMW

On the varied tasks and opportunities he’s been given: “Being an apprentice, there hasn’t been any closed doors at all. It’s been a very good experience so far and I’ve always felt welcomed by all departments. I’ve been given opportunities to learn, been given projects and have even led projects on my own. I’ve done some stuff off my own back as well – which has contributed to the work place.

“Optional projects are available here as well, such as the newsletter, which I first got involved in during my first year. Once the person formally in charge of this left, I stepped up and took that role. I’ve managed to develop the newsletter quite a lot since then with teams across all BMW sites in the UK. So, I’ve got plenty to do! And it’s all very rewarding and satisfying.”

Floriane Fidegnon

Floriane Fidegnon, Policy Connect

On the current education system – is it fit for purpose? “The is no direct answer, unfortunately. The education system covers schooling all the way up to further and higher education.

When you start to think about manufacturing skills on a wider spectrum, you’re also thinking about retraining, learning and development for people who are already in the sector as well. 

“In terms of inspiring young people, we often talk about how the perception of manufacturing definitely needs to change, so young people can see that actually, manufacturing is a cool sector – it’s pretty sexy. But often people think it’s quite a dirty industry, with massive copper vats just pouring stuff everywhere.

“There’s  much more that we need to do about the perception of manufacturing. We’ve acknowledged that, as have a lot of our members. There’s some really good work coming from the likes of Engineering UK and Enginuity on how we can present the sector as one that has high employability rates and is cool to get in to.”

Listen back to episode 4 of this series