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How can the UK utilise its best industrial manufacturing talent?

skilled engineers needed to plug the UK skills gap
of current workforce due to retire by 2026
of survey participants attribute skills gap to missing engineering or technical skills
apprentices work across High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres

High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s vision for UK manufacturing takes into account the lack of available skilled workforce, from research through to industrial exploitation. The Catapult aims to boost the UK’s industrial transformation talent pool by removing barriers to opportunities for upskilling and reskilling in priority areas including digitalisation, electrification, advanced materials and net zero.

Using its strong convening power, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult is utilising its innovation capabilities to revolutionise skills and workforce delivery mechanisms in the UK industrial landscape. Working closely with the Department for Education (DfE), it brought industrial insight directly into education planning through the Emerging Skills Project.[1] Building on this success, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult is now working with Innovate UK and other Catapults to expand this strategic role into other sectors. The new Workforce Foresighting Hub will help to ensure that the right training is available in the right places at the right times to deliver maximum UK impact.

Across the seven High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres, over 1,700 individuals make up one of the largest apprenticeship communities in the UK.

Since opening in 2013, the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre offers apprenticeships up to degree level and a portfolio of Continuing Professional Development courses delivered at local and national levels. These apprentice opportunities help to support local people, with South Yorkshire residents accounting for approximately 83% of all apprentices and help to increase social mobility and inclusion, with almost 27% of all learners living in areas of deprivation. Upon completion of apprenticeships, the highly skilled workers create a pipeline of suitable candidates for local businesses who are helping to drive growth in the region.

In the Midlands, MTC’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre offers forward-looking apprenticeships with a focus on smaller business skills needs.

[1] Developing the skills system for emerging technologies

The centre runs training programmes at the UKAEA, where they have delivered apprenticeships to more than 800 learners from facilities in Coventry and Oxfordshire. The programmes have received £1m investment a year until 2030 from Lloyds Bank. In partnership with Lloyds Bank and the West Midlands Combined Authority, the MTC has also developed a skills boot camp to help managers within the sector identify investment cases for introducing technology and associated skills.

Nearby at the University of Warwick, WMG runs a degree apprenticeship centre that connects opportunities from University Technical College through to Masters and Doctoral programmes, serving up to 1,000 students at a time. The degree apprenticeship programme was created alongside the University’s existing 20 programmes benefiting almost 800 students; one of the largest groups of degree apprenticeship courses at a Russell Group University.

In addition to offering apprenticeships in the North East, CPI also offers doctoral training to enhance PhD students’ exposure to real-life settings. CPI is also helping to develop new trailblazer standards in their technological fields, whilst NCC is doing similar work in the South West, specialising in the advancement of composites technicians and offering candidates composites conversion courses.

Multiple centres work with specialist academies, including the Yorkshire-based Nuclear AMRC, which works alongside the National Skills Academy for Nuclear to ensure training is aligned with the needs of the industry. And at their helm in Scotland, NMIS hosts the Manufacturing Skills Academy to offer advanced manufacturing training and development opportunities for individuals at any stage of their careers.

These examples cover just a proportion of the work that is ongoing at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult to drive industrial skills across the UK.

We have been extremely impressed by the apprentices that have joined us at FANUC through the MTC Apprenticeship Programme. They’ve been able to pick up advanced tasks and roles within the company very quickly and they’ve demonstrated high levels of professionalism and readiness for industry.

Kerry Booth
Human Resources Manager, FANUC