Skills remains one of the long-standing challenges in manufacturing; why does the education system still remain unable to encourage and prepare young people for industry?
The Annual Manufacturing Report 2019 shows that only 17% of manufacturers are confident in the UK’s education system in preparing young people for careers in industry; 15% think it is a “disaster”, 16% have no confidence, and the remaining majority of business leaders are somewhere between the two.
Bridging the gap
To counter this lack of confidence in the education system, more and more companies are starting their own training centres, either on their own if they are big enough, or in collaboration with other local companies or universities.
One such initiative is the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME), a collaboration between Unipart Manufacturing Group and Coventry University.
It is part-funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and brings together partners in academia, industry and R&D in a ‘live’ manufacturing environment.
Carl Perrin, director at Institute of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, said to The Manufacturer, “The issue of skills from the manufacturers point of view, which I saw when I was trying to recruit in previous roles, is that there are young people who are graduating from university, but they haven’t applied the theory they have learnt before. They simply don’t have the skills in terms of operating within a business.
“What the AME has tried to do with this ‘faculty on the factory floor’ model, is show that businesses must play a much bigger role in the whole education process. From defining the course, and learning what the outcomes might be, to making manufacturing generally more accessible. At the AME when students come to graduate, their CVs have got real examples of projects they have worked on.”
The Institute aims to:
- Develop industry-ready engineering graduates
- Research and develop innovative technology for automotive, aerospace, oil and gas, power generation and rail sectors
- Disseminate research and technologies for the benefit of Unipart, its suppliers and UK manufacturing
- Create new postgraduate learning opportunities and professional development courses for industry
- Drive economic growth by making the UK globally competitive
He continues, “It is a rounded model that could work across lots of different sectors, the result is the students are much more employable.”
The centre celebrated its largest graduation earlier this month, when 29 students received their BEng and MEng qualifications.
Perrin adds, “It is all about trying to understand what the problem is and then working together to fix it. The university wouldn’t be able to do it by itself and Unipart couldn’t either.”
His view resonates with the 37% of manufacturing leaders who strongly believe that manufacturers must play an important role in shaping the workforce of tomorrow and being involved in schools and education systems. Only 2% think that it is the government’s responsibility to make sure that the workforce of tomorrow is secure.
The Manufacturer also previously asked business leaders what they believe the skills trend of 2019 will be. Business chiefs said that investing and managing talent is essential, and it is imperative that they are the drivers of this.
To ensure a secure, able and prepared workforce of tomorrow, industry should be supported by government but ultimately take initiative with their own objectives in mind.
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