This month MHA Carpenter Box Partner, Chris Coopey, who heads the firm’s Manufacturing Group, looks forward to the next METALL event, METALL #5.

Feedback from our previous events highlights that many engineering and manufacturing businesses are finding recruitment difficult, if not impossible, and not just for graduates and experienced engineers, but even at apprentice level. This skills gap means a growth gap for the sector in our area – and it will get worse the longer we fail to address the issue. There is also a particular issue in relation to encouraging females into the sector, which means that the pool of potential talent is reduced by almost a half from the outset.

This skills gap poses a major challenge for the UK’s manufacturing and engineering industries and until the issue is addressed, manufacturers will find it difficult to plan for growth and remain competitive, and at the cutting edge of the global market - which will be an absolute necessity in the post BREXIT world.

METALL #5 will be held on 1st June at the South Lodge Hotel, near Horsham. It is a specially extended Q&A panel breakfast event, with three industry experts who will be looking at the skills gap – one of the most important and difficult challenges faced by many in the sector. Between them the panel have an in-depth knowledge of many of the issues and opportunities businesses and employers face today. They also have insight into the policies and attitudes of government and can hopefully help to clear the fog around some of the confusion.

With his vast experience as a recruiter in the MET sectors, John Docherty of CBSButler will set the scene with an overview of how the land presently lies. The format will then be around an ‘any questions’ style debate, with the audience asking the panel for their opinion on how best to face up to the uncertainties around such things as BREXIT, the government’s attitude to skills training, how to encourage and motivate our young people into engineering, manufacturing and tech businesses, and perhaps what the future holds as the Apprenticeship Levy begins to operate and ‘T Levels’ are launched.

One of the panel members is Sir John O’Reilly who is, amongst other things, Chairman of the ERA Foundation, a non-profit organisation which supports engineering skills development and aims to bridge the gap between engineering research and its commercialisation. He also advises the government in his role as Director General, Knowledge and Innovation, Department for Business and Energy & Industrial Strategy, so he has real insight into the way the government thinks about the sector.

Maggie Philbin OBE is also on the panel and is known to many of us from her time on such TV programmes as Tomorrow’s World and Bang Goes the Theory. Maggie has been working tirelessly as CEO and co-founder of TeenTech, an award winning, industry-led initiative, which helps the ‘X Factor’ generation understand their true potential and the real opportunities available in the contemporary STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) workplace.

The final panel member, Professor Andrew Lloyd, is Dean of the College of Life, Health & Physical Sciences, and Professor of Biomedical Materials at the University of Brighton. Andrew has practical experience around the provision of engineering teaching in a university setting and helped to deliver the new Advanced Engineering Centre (AEC) at the university. He has also been involved in the setting up of the University of Brighton Academies Trust which operates schools in Hastings, as well as advising on the bid for the Harbourside University Technical College at Newhaven.

There’s a clear demand for talent at all levels and if tackled successfully, resolving the skills shortage will support the sustainable growth of the industry, and ensure the sector continues to play a fundamental role in rebalancing the UK economy. We launched METALL (Manufacturing Engineering Technology Alliance) back in July 2016 and the four events have so far proved to be very popular promoting good practice, and allowing attendees to share experiences and to network with peers. METALL’s primary aim is to inform, educate and facilitate discussion and progress in the Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology sectors and this event promises to deliver on every count.

Places will be limited so please sign up at the following link to avoid disappointment

www.metall.org.uk/events

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