Manufacturing Companies Must Act Now to Address Skills Gap
UK manufacturing companies urgently need to work more closely with universities to
address the shortfall in engineering skills. That’s the view of Carol Burke, who heads
Unipart Manufacturing Group comprising several sites based in the Midlands.
Burke was commenting on the Review of Engineering Skills carried out by Professor
John Perkins on behalf of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. The
report sets out the importance of engineering skills to the UK economy. It states that
these same skills are crucial to addressing global issues such as providing food,
energy and clean water to an ever growing and ageing population.
“This is a vitally important report,” said Burke. “It’s essential
that UK manufacturers have access to highly trained, highly
motivated people with engineering skills. This may be seen as
a long-term issue, but it needs to be addressed now.”
Professor Perkins’ report provides 22 recommendations, many
of which involve collaborative working between education and
industry to inspire, attract and skill tomorrow’s engineers.
According to Burke, this is a fundamental aspect of Unipart Manufacturing’s ongoing
strategy for growth in UK and international markets. In October Unipart and Coventry
University announced plans to develop a new Engineering and Manufacturing
Institute on Unipart’s manufacturing site in Coventry.
The £32 million project will see the creation of an international centre of engineering
and manufacturing excellence, which will be the base for a sustained programme of
innovative teaching and learning, product development and research activity.
Unipart is contributing £17.9 million towards the creation of the new facility with a further £5.6 million towards student scholarships and product research and development, and including support for the new undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in manufacturing and the advanced engineering and management programmes that will emerge as a result of the initiative.
According to Burke, the new facility is an investment for Coventry and for Unipart’s
manufacturing businesses. “The engineering institute will not only provide young
people with hands-on experience learning about cutting-edge engineering techniques
in a production facility, it will also provide UMG with access to some of the best and
brightest young engineers, some of whom will stay with us to grow our business at
home and globally.”