Make it in Great Britain Industry Champion – Joe Greenwell

Joe Greenwell

Chairman, Ford of Britain

Joseph Greenwell began his career as a graduate trainee with Austin Morris. He held various senior roles in Jaguar, Ford of Europe and Ford North America, including: VP Communications and Public Affairs for Ford of Europe and also at Jaguar Cars; VP, Marketing and Operations for Ford of Europe; chairman and CEO of Jaguar and Land Rover, and VP of Global Automotive and Product Promotions and Associations.

Most recently he held the position of VP, Government Affairs, Premier Automotive Group and Ford of Europe. He became chairman of Ford of Britain in 2006. He was president of the Automotive Council from 2008 to 2010.

Joe is the President of The Automotive Industry Charity, BEN, and was awarded a CBE in 2011.

How has your company engaged with young people and the community to improve the image of manufacturing?

We have very extensive interactions with schools and communities. Many are long-standing, and are replicated throughout the world where we have facilities.

We have an Education and Community department at Dunton which coordinates all the interaction between Ford and schools. This covers interaction, particularly in the STEM field, with children at Key Stages 1 to 4 – primary school through to GCSE stage – right through to undergraduates and postgraduates.

Specific examples are:
University seminars – Ford subject matter experts deliver seminars to universities.
Teacher seminars – primary and secondary school teachers, especially in the engineering and STEM field, which is linked to the curriculum.
We provide work experience placements, which are very closely monitored.
Bring a Child to Work days for staff.
Educational visits – we are always having visits to the Dunton R&D Centre.
Also CEME, the Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence, in Dagenham, is where we train our apprentices. We also have school parties visit here as part of the CDT courses.

Joe Greenwell, chairman, Ford of Britain and Make it in Great Britain Industry Champion

We host the Essex regional heats of nationwide programmes, such as Green Power, a national electric car marathon where children build cars given basic equipment, at Dunton.
We do The Lego Challenge, a nationwide challenge for kids aged 10-15 years old, which is about robotics. We run Computer Clubs for Girls.

We strongly support Primary Engineer and the work of Susan Sturlock on this programme. It trains teachers to teach engineering and STEM, getting involved with practical STEM work, as a means of helping youngsters at primary school level with literacy, numeracy and teamwork. We’ve run some pilots in south Essex which have been hugely successful. The teachers seem pleased with the results too.
There is also Women in Science and Engineering, where we are involved, plus we do language workshops.
Perhaps finally we have IT workshops for Parents.

Ford employs 15,000 people in the UK and there are many volunteers, who are school governors, give talks in primary and secondary schools and mentor children.

Rolled together with all the programmes, number of school children who ‘get engaged’ to Ford plants in the UK will be in the thousands.

But we’re not alone in this activity.

What have you personally done to improve youth engagement with manufacturing?

I am involved at many levels, but I should also give credit to my colleagues on the Automotive Council for their passion for this agenda too.

I was very keen to promote the Primary Engineer programme [is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2005 with the aim of encouraging more young people to consider careers in STEM related professions] at Ford.

I talk to undergraduates and graduates at a variety of business schools and I am on the advisory boards of some of them, including Cranfield School of Management, Anglia Ruskin University and [recently] Norwich Business School, part of the University of East Anglia. I’ve given talks on low carbon vehicles at Nottingham Trent University.

The Blue Oval scholarship programme was something we, with my colleagues, wanted to do. I pushed it and got the money from the Board and Steve Odell my boss, to back it.

I’m on the Business in the Community Education and Leadership Team, which is promoting closer engagement with business in general and secondary schools in particular, not just on skills but especially regarding employability.

When I was president of the SMMT two years ago, we worked to promote a better image of manufacturing and engineering in our sector. We were acutely aware that we’d not marketed ourselves as effectively as we might.

See Inside Manufacturing [a campaign to get teachers and students into more factories] came out of those discussions with between the Automotive Council and the Government. We do this already, so automotive was the first sector to open its doors.

I’m very involved with promoting our own apprenticeship programme. We have 20 places for our craft apprentice programme at Dunton this year. So far, we have received 229 completed applications, a 35% increase on applications from last year.

I’ve been a board member of Semta for six years, so I’m connected with apprenticeships, lean, further education colleges etc.

Finally, I’m an Industry Champion for Make it in Great Britain and at Ford we’re looking forward to being involved in the exhibition for this campaign, at the Science Museum in July and August.

What more needs to be done to increase interest in manufacturing and engineering?

Youth engagement is now a very busy landscape, a lot of excellent work is going on across all the sectors. We’re lucky, here we have the Automotive Council to provide a good forum for strategy.

But I believe, and I will bore for England on this, there is a need for a closer, more systemic connection between business, schools and higher education. Especially in engineering and manufacturing.

All of us can cite examples of engagement like those I gave earlier. The question is do we have scale, and are we making impact at a strategic level, which would allow us to compete more effectively with overseas competitors? There are some very important issues here. Our attainment levels at 16, do we know where we are on the league levels?

There’s a strong understanding on this now, the CBI are hot on it and so is government. Something like 45% of 16-year olds fail to achieve five GCSEs including English and Maths at grades A to B. That is inconsistent with the vision of this country as being very focused on a high added-value, technology world leader.

There is wide recognition of this, and there’s a big effort to redress it. If youngsters are struggling at basic literacy and numeracy, never mind excellence in STEM subjects, we are frankly going to struggle. Conversely, at the very highest levels of academia in this country we are very well served.

Where business can play a big part – and this is why I’m involved in this field – is where business people go in and talks to schools, to primary and secondary school teachers, about what they do and what is required [from education] to do it. They can promote the notion these are rewarding and well paid careers among their students and they can be given a real context to their studies in literacy, numeracy and business studies, which gives them the relevance they crave.

Professional development is important for everyone, and getting them on the bottom step of the stairway and encouraging them to look up, by explaining that companies can help you acquire qualifications, is so important. The sooner young people begin to suspect those are things they can aspire to, the better.