Recap: January’s Engineering and Manufacturing Forum

Author - Marianne O'Sullivan

Date published:

The Chamber’s engineering and manufacturing forum has been established to bring together North East businesses across engineering and manufacturing sectors, as a platform for focused discussion, sharing concerns, achievements, and best practice and information gathering to support effective Chamber campaigning.

At our most recent engineering and manufacturing forum hosted by New College Durham we focussed on the themes of apprenticeships and skills needs within the sector.

Following an introduction by the forum’s Chair, Mick Howard, Chief Executive at Clearly Drinks we moved on to a presentation from the college. Andrew Broadbent the Principal and Chief Executive at the college welcomed us to their site and highlighted the strong focus the college has on engaging with businesses on workforce planning, upskilling and smart manufacturing.

We then heard from Alison Maynard the Deputy Principal at New College Durham who highlighted the colleges bootcamp offer in both combined authority areas which aligned with growth sectors in the region to help with upskilling. There is a strong focus on green skills with sector based work academy programmes focussed on retrofitting, smart metering and the installation of heat pumps.  The college is working with Esh Group as part of their role as the North East Institute of Technology which has brough £8 million in investment to the region.

Our Chair then moved to have a discussion about apprenticeships with Helen Carr, Technical operations group leader at Cummins and Hayley Farrell Technical Operations Apprentice in her third year working at Cummins. Helen had been an apprentice herself and discussed how apprenticeships had helped her progress in her career and the importance of having mentors and a progression route for apprentices in organisations. Hayley talked about how an apprenticeship has helped her to change careers after Covid whilst continuing to earn and gain experience in different areas of the business.

The Chamber then gave an update on their Spring Budget submission and the latest Quarterly Economic Survey results from our members.

Members then had a discussion facilitated by the Chair around soft skills, hybrid working, how to retain apprentices as an SME and attracting a diverse range of candidates in the recruitment process.

Attendees then enjoyed the opportunities to network and make new connections and catch up with existing contacts from across the engineering and manufacturing sector as well as a tour of New College Durham’s facilities.

‘Yet another great forum set in a brilliant facility with such inspirational presenters! I love being part of this growing community! ’- Mick Howard, Chief Executive at Clearly Drinks and Chair of the Chamber’s engineering and manufacturing forum.

We will be hosting another 2 engineering and manufacturing forums in 2024 , with the next provisionally held for May , and we’d like to encourage any Chamber member in these sectors to come along. To find out more or to be included in the forum invite list, please contact either: [email protected] or [email protected]

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