Organisers of the Leeds Manufacturing Festival, launched last month to showcase the city’s 1,800 manufacturing businesses as a career option for school and college students, have announced a four-strong line-up of sponsors backing the initiative.
Accountant RSM, The Works Recruitment, law firm Womble Bond Dickinson and Leeds City College are supporting the seven-month festival, which is designed to give young people opportunities to hear more about, and experience, modern manufacturing in Leeds.
Graham Cooper, Leeds Manufacturing Festival organiser and a director of high-tech printing products manufacturer Agfa Graphics, said: “The backing the festival receives from our sponsors is essential to enable us to reach out to 10,000 students across the city and ensure the series of events taking place between now and October have maximum impact.
“Across our programme of events we’ll dispel the myths that manufacturing is outdated and declining, and let young people see for themselves that Leeds is full of dynamic, high-tech manufacturing firms at the cutting edge of the industry, with some great careers on offer.”
RSM’s head of manufacturing, Mike Thornton, said: ‘Resource pressure in the manufacturing sector is acute, and could increase further with a reduction in EU workers in the UK post Brexit. That’s why initiatives like this are so important to changing perceptions of UK manufacturing. Exposing the vibrant activity that goes on in modern manufacturing is key to addressing the skills gap, inspiring more young people to enter into an engineering and manufacturing career.”
Craig Burton, founder and managing director of The Works Recruitment, added: “In Leeds, more than 25,000 people are employed in manufacturing-related roles. Employers are aware they must engage with young people and schools right now if they’re to be confident of a skilled talent pipeline for the future. The Works employs hundreds of individuals across the city, and manufacturing roles account for over 60% of our vacancies. We have a responsibility as an influencer to share the great opportunities available for everyone in this sector.”
Vicky McCombe, managing associate in construction and engineering at Womble Bond Dickinson, said: “From talking to our manufacturing clients it’s clear that the skills gap, and the need to encourage more girls into STEM careers, continue to be key challenges facing the sector. We are really pleased to be supporting the Leeds Manufacturing Festival which is doing important work in both these issues.”
Lee Pryor, head of apprenticeships and business engagement at Leeds City College, said: “Leeds’ manufacturing industry is on the rise and will be key to the growth of the region’s economy. The city is a well-established hub and what’s fantastic about this initiative is that thousands of young people across the region will have the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills, and discover the wide range of jobs there are in the sector.”
Now in its second year, Leeds Manufacturing Festival is organised by the Leeds Manufacturing Alliance and Leeds Chamber of Commerce. Schools, manufacturing businesses and students can find out more about the festival, and how to get involved, at www.leedsmanufacturingfestival.co.uk .
Photo: From left: Craig Burton, The Works Recruitment; Vicky McCombe, Womble Bond Dickinson; Graham Cooper, Leeds Manufacturing Festival; Ben Horseman, RSM; Mitch Scott, Leeds City College