Skills hub helps to boost engineer numbers in Staffordshire

NEARLY 8,000 people have been supported in gaining engineering skills over a three-year period in one of the county’s main industrial sectors through a local enterprise partnership funded project.

The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Skills Hub operates across six sites offering world class equipment and training facilities. It is part-funded through the Government’s Growth Deal.

The hub is supporting people from across the area to make the most of growing employment opportunities in engineering and manufacturing. It is marking its successes today – This is Engineering Day. The day has been created by industry charity the Royal Academy of Engineering to celebrate how engineers help to shape our society.

There is an estimated shortfall of up to 59,000 engineers each year in the UK. However, in Staffordshire, partners including Staffordshire County Council and the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership are working together to ensure a pipeline of local people with the engineering skills that local businesses demand.

Staffordshire now has more manufacturing jobs than any other West Midlands area at over 47,000, which has increased by over 5,000 since 2011. The value of those jobs has also increased significantly through a focus on moving the local skill base from traditional to higher-level engineering skills.

The engineering sector in Staffordshire is now worth £3.57bn a year; the highest value sector in the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent economy.

At the heart of the growth is co-ordinated support to local business through the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Skills Hub, and a £70m skills programme and the county council works with the LEP in delivering the programme.

Supporting over 7,700 learners to learn cutting-edge skills, the county’s six Advanced Manufacturing Hubs are also bucking the national trend and seeing an increase in the number of engineering apprentices.

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP acting chairman Alun Rogers said: “Our advanced manufacturing and engineering skills hub has been a tremendous success and has given people a real advantage is gaining essential skills to enter the workplace or change careers.

“Most importantly these will be better paid, better skilled jobs which can really set people up throughout their working lives.

“The numbers of learners demonstrate the hub’s impact. We’re now looking forward to seeing people benefit from the new skills equipment fund – which has fitted even more state-of-the-art industry equipment at some of the sites.”

Anthony Baines, Staffordshire County Council’s skills and employability commissioner said: “To have had nearly 8,000 learners go through the AME hub is good for them and good for business. In addition to boosting people’s skills in our key sectors, it’s strengthening links between learning providers and business which is vital to the hub’s continued success.”