An initiative to educate young people about career opportunities in the manufacturing sector is being launched in Bradford this week.
Bradford Manufacturing Week (8-12 October), led by West & North Yorkshire Chamber and backed by the newly-formed Bradford Economic Partnership, aims to introduce the district’s manufacturers to young people and boost apprenticeship numbers by creating more inspired, informed and ‘work ready’ applicants into the sector.
The brainchild of Nick Garthwaite, president of Bradford Chamber and MD of international chemicals and detergents manufacturer Christeyns, the week aims to engage with around 75 local schools, reach more than 20,000 14-18 year-old students and create 1,000 work experience days across the district.
With support from some of Bradford’s major manufacturers including BASF, Keighley Laboratories and Thorite and backed with headline sponsorship from Barclays, the launch marks the start of six months of school and manufacturer engagement before the week of events, tours, work placements, company visits and seminars begin in October.
Nick, who believes the Bradford initiative, alongside the Chamber’s October Leeds Manufacturing Festival, will inspire other cities across the UK to host their own manufacturing weeks, said: “The Chamber is leading two high impact manufacturing sector initiatives because we want young people to see for themselves the exciting and progressive career opportunities it presents.
“Despite Bradford being the youngest city in the UK with a growing population of school leavers, our apprenticeships are low. From August 2016 to January 2018 just 1,510 were undertaken across the manufacturing and engineering sector in Bradford and there are just 80 manufacturing apprenticeships we know of that are currently being officially advertised.
“We want to encourage manufacturers to consider apprenticeships to future proof their workforce and for young people to consider apprenticeships as an alternative route to a skilled and rewarding career. By improving communication between schools and manufacturers and showing just what an innovative industry this is, we believe we can attract the right talent and create a strong, skilled core base for our growing manufacturing sector.”
Bradford is an economy built on manufacturing with 1,200 businesses employing 23,000 people – the fourth highest of any city district in the UK . Bradford’s manufacturing GVA output was worth £1.5billion in 2016 accounting for 15% of the district’s total output. Engineering is the district’s largest manufacturing sector, which also includes chemicals, food and drink and textiles.
Nick added: “To make Bradford Manufacturing Week a success we need all manufacturers to open their doors and help us inspire and excite young people by showcasing their products, innovation, technology and to demonstrate just how much they contribute to the local and national economy. We want smaller and larger manufacturers to back this initiative and we’ll make sure anyone who gets involved is given full support in hosting work placements, tours and events.
“This is a celebration of our district’s manufacturing might and we should be shouting from the rooftops about Bradford’s magnificent manufacturing heritage and advancements into the future.”
Bradford Manufacturing Week is being delivered with Bradford-based school and career specialists Aspire igen with additional sponsorship from Gordons, Naylor Wintersgill, the Bradford Economic Partnership, Mitton Mechanical and the University of Bradford, alongside a steering group including Bradford Grammar School, Bradford Council and local businesses.
Debbie Mullen, head of manufacturing in Yorkshire for Barclays, said: “Manufacturing is the backbone of the British economy and it is vital we help attract the next generation of talent to lead the industry forward. We are looking forward to helping this ambitious initiative bring the best of the region’s manufacturers together with schools and colleges to inspire young people to consider a future in manufacturing.”
A Bradford Manufacturing Week information event for manufacturers is being held on 16 May at Bradford Industrial Museum where details about the Week’s events, getting involved and school partnership opportunities will be available.