Launched last week at a packed event addressed by West Yorkshire Mayor Tracey Brabin and manufacturing employers’ organisation MAKE UK, Leeds Manufacturing Festival has announced the three organisations that are headline sponsors for its 2023 programme.
Leeds City College, engineering and manufacturing recruiter E3 Recruitment and Next Gen Makers, which runs a benchmarking and accreditation scheme for manufacturing and engineering apprenticeships, are all backing this year’s programme of events. The festival aims to highlight the range and depth of well-paid careers offered by Leeds’ 1,800 manufacturing businesses.
Recruiting new talent into the industry is a growing challenge for UK manufacturers and the festival, organised by the Leeds Manufacturing Alliance, aims to make connections between young people and manufacturing and engineering firms to bring the next generation of employees into the industry.
Mitch Scott, head of engineering at Leeds City College, said: “We’re really pleased to be supporting the festival once again. Our engineering and manufacturing courses are cornerstones of what we offer and, particularly with the new T levels, which combine classroom learning with hands-on experience in the workplace, our students are gaining skills that ideally equip them really well for the vast range of opportunities in the sector.
“The festival plays an invaluable role in demonstrating the scope of exciting manufacturing industry careers that are on offer.”
Now in its sixth year Leeds Manufacturing Festival runs until July and 2023. Highlights include manufacturing ‘treks’, which will see school and college students visiting factories across the city, live careers panels and the Leeds Manufacturing Festival awards ceremony, recognising some of the rising stars and highest-achieving young people currently working in Leeds’ manufacturing sector.
Matthew Booth, associate director at festival sponsor E3 Recruitment, said: “The industry is in dire need of new talent, and in need of fresh perspectives and skills that younger generations can bring. There’s been a 34% drop in manufacturing and engineering apprenticeship starts in the last couple of years, and we also face the growing skills gap which is affecting over 85% of businesses across the UK.
“Manufacturing is such a diverse and innovative space. The opportunities are endless and we find that most young people just aren’t aware of the different roles available that would suit their skillset. It’s an absolute pleasure to be working with Leeds Manufacturing Festival again, and working together to bridge the skills gap.”
Next Gen Makers’ managing director Adam Tipper added: “We are proud to support the Leeds Manufacturing Festival and its efforts to inspire the next generation towards careers in engineering and manufacturing in Leeds. These industries are vital to the UK economy, society and creating the technologies that we all rely upon, so it is essential that we raise awareness of the fantastic careers available within the sector whilst creating a platform for employers to showcase their opportunities.”
Ben Wilson, chair of Leeds Manufacturing Alliance and director of Leeds-based glass reinforced plastic moulds manufacturer MPM, said: “The backing of our sponsors is vital to ensure we reach as many young people as possible and show them just what excellent job opportunities and diverse career paths the manufacturing industry can offer them.
“Technical and practical skills are essential to the future of the sector, and of the UK economy. They are currently in short supply so students, as well as their teachers and parents, will see that being equipped with these vital skills at an early stage will make them highly employable when they come to start a career.”
The festival is also sponsored by Leeds City Council and manufacturing employers MPM Ltd, Leeds Welding Company, Greyhound Box and Sound Leisure, who are members of the Leeds Manufacturing Alliance.
For the first time this year, Leeds Manufacturing Festival is also supporting the work of the Howarth Foundation, which helps people who are homeless or who are in unstable accommodation to find work or training.