26 January 2024

Year-round programme confirmed for 2024 Leeds Manufacturing Festival


An ambitious year-round programme of events has been confirmed for the 2024 Leeds Manufacturing Festival starting next week with Leeds Apprenticeship Recruitment Fair at the First Direct Arena and the festival’s official launch on Thursday 22/2/24.

Leading industry figures including Steve Burnell, managing director of Boeing Defence UK, and Fiona McGarry, Make UK business engagement manager, are lined up as keynote speakers for the launch event, which will take place in the Oracle lecture theatre at Leeds City College Printworks campus.

The festival aims to raise the profile of the city’s manufacturing sector, build relationships between employers, local schools and colleges, promoting the range of opportunities and careers available in manufacturing and engineering for young people.

Leeds City College, UTC Leeds, Roundhay School, Abbey Grange Church of England Academy and Crawshaw Academy are some of the education providers taking part in the festival.

National Careers Week at the beginning of March sees Leeds City College host a manufacturing careers showcase, offering students from the School of Engineering the opportunity to meet and talk to employers about careers in the sector.

Students from other schools in Leeds will be attending the careers showcase, while Abbey Grange will host a ‘Let’s talk manufacturing’ careers panel, giving students direct insight into what it’s like to work in modern manufacturing.

Meanwhile, UTC Leeds will host the launch of a new ‘Excellent Engineering Employers directory’ by Next Gen Makers. The directory will provide an invaluable guide for school careers advisers, showcasing the best employers and best practice in apprenticeship training from around West Yorkshire.

Throughout the year, employers are being encouraged to build relationships with schools in their area by taking part in careers fairs, presentations and other activities as well as sign up to West Yorkshire’s Enterprise Adviser Network.

The network aims to bridge the gap between the world of work and education by teaming up employers with careers leaders and advisers in schools to help students better understand career pathways and opportunities.

While manufacturing jobs are better paid than service sector roles – on average 10% above the average for the UK economy as a whole – recruitment remains the number one challenge for employers who continue to report huge shortfall in skills.

This year’s festival will therefore highlight best practice and initiatives in skills development, recruitment, careers advice and apprenticeship training from around the region and elsewhere in the UK.

For the first time, the programme also includes a programme of ‘best practice in manufacturing’ company visits, with textile firm AW Hainsworth hosting the first invitation-only visit in February, followed by Airedale International in April.

The programme for the first half of the year concludes in June with the Leeds Manufacturing Festival awards, recognising the achievements and contributions of the sector’s rising stars and ‘next generation’ talent. It resumes in September when National Manufacturing Day (26/9/24) throws the spotlight on manufacturing and engineering across the UK and continues through to December.


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Raising the profile of manufacturing in Leeds