28 February 2024

Cameron and Tyra star at 2024 LMF launch event

There was a full house at Leeds City College Printworks Campus for the launch of the 2024 Leeds Manufacturing Festival. Keynote speakers Steve Burnell, managing director of Boeing Defence UK, and Fiona McGarry from Make UK’s national apprenticeship training academy in Aston, Birmingham, shared insights, learnings and best practice in recruitment, staff development and training.

They were joined by Cameron Pinder, a second-year manufacturing apprentice with Kirkstall Precision Engineering, and 23-year-old Tyra Jones, planning team leader at global engineering firm Sulzer.

They shared their experience of working in the sector, speaking alongside a panel of industry experts from Leeds City College School of Engineering, specialist recruitment agency E3 Recruitment and Next Gen Makers, which runs a national kitemarking programme for engineering apprenticeships.

Cameron emphasised the importance of working with schools, promoting manufacturing to young people from an early age and having the right mentors to nurture young talent. “There’s not so much a skills gap as a ‘passion gap’ and it’s impossible for the next generation be passionate about something they don't understand,” he said.

“I would urge employers to be more honest about your values and more collaborative and transparent with your employees,” added Tyra, pointing out that young people are looking for a more open culture within the workplace.

Fiona McGarry, Make UK business engagement manager, highlighted the urgent need to start engaging with ‘Gen Z’, who will make up 27% of the workforce by 2025, and Gen Alpha who will starting to join the workforce by the end of the decade.

“Over the next ten years, 20% of the manufacturing workforce is due to retire and so employers can’t afford not to engage with Gen Z and Gen Alpha,” she said, underlining the need to more attract more young women into the sector and engage through social media channels such as Tik Tok, which is where young people are finding out about the world of work.

Boeing has grown its workforce in the UK from just over 2,000 five years ago to more than 4,000 today, something managing director Steve Burnell said couldn’t have been achieved without an extensive outreach programme, a focus on creating a positive working environment and top-level management buy-in.

The company currently has 68 apprentices on its award-winning apprenticeship programme and the 2023 intake was the biggest to date. It also runs an internships and graduate recruitment programme, with extensive partnerships across the further education university sectors.

Matt Booth, associate director from E3 Recruitment emphasised the vital importance of influencing the influencers – parent and teachers – to attract young people to work in the sector and initiatives such as the Next Gen Makers kitemarking and best practice programme to help manufacturers position themselves as employers of choice.

An ambitious year-round programme has been confirmed for the 2024 festival, highlighting career opportunities for young people in the region’s manufacturing sector.

Next up is a Manufacturing Careers Showcase taking place during National Careers Week, on Thursday 7th March. It presents manufacturing employers with the opportunity to meet and talk to students from Leeds City College’s engineering faculty and feeder schools.

Employers taking part include Arla Foods and mattress manufacturer Harrison Spink, engineering companies LBBC and Saftronics, and The Boot Repair Company.

The careers showcase will be followed by a live ‘Let’s talk manufacturing’ careers panel involving students at Abbey Grange CofE Academy (Wednesday 20/3/24) and the launch of the new Excellent Engineering Employers careers resource developed by festival sponsor Next Gen Makers. The event takes place on Thursday 18/4/24, hosted by UTC Leeds.

For details of the 2024 programme visit here: https://leedsmanufacturingfestival.co.uk/events


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Raising the profile of manufacturing in Leeds