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National Skills Academy for Manufacturing Launched

DTI logoA new £14m national academy to raise manufacturing skills is to be launched by Alistair Darling, Trade and Industry Secretary in the West Midlands. He will call for a 'national mission' to lift skill levels to compete with the growing economic powerhouses of China and India.

The new academy is one of a series set up by Government across sectors of industry. It will deliver courses designed for the first time by industry for industry, training 40,000 students a year by 2012. Some of the biggest names in British manufacturing Rolls Royce, Caterpillar, Ford, GKN, BAe Systems, Airbus UK, Corus, VT Group and Nissan are backing the project.

The national centre in Birmingham will join up with lead colleges in each region of England delivering courses under the National Skills Academy brand. The Academy badge will be a stamp of quality training for employers the length and breadth of the country. Any college or training provider will be able to apply to put Academy courses on, or go into firms to deliver them. Accredited larger firms will be able to train staff at smaller firms.

Announcing the Academy at Warwickshire College in Leamington Spa Mr Darling said:

"Raising skills has to be a national mission. That is why some of the best known manufacturers in this country are on board. They know what it takes to compete and win. They know 'good enough' doesn't work. That is why it is vital the training is designed by these winners for the winners of tomorrow.

"The new Skills Academy for Manufacturing can be the production line for the next generation of highly trained, highly motivated manufacturing workers. The country needs them."

The first three regions are the West Midlands, the East Midlands and the North East. The other regions will come on stream by the end of 2007, and Scotland and Wales are due to be included early next year.

• Manufacturing accounts for 14% if GDP. Providing 3.7m jobs, half of UK exports and three quarters of business R&D.

• The UK automotive sector produced more than 1.6m vehicles in 2005, close to the historic peak of the 1970's and nearly twice the number produced in the early 1980's.

• Aerospace invested £2.7bn a year in R&D in 2005, with a turnover of over "22bn.

Lord Leitch's recent review of the UK's skill needs highlighted the critical importance of skills to people, business and the economy. He said if companies do not invest in higher level skills for their workforce then the country will be less competitive and people will find it ever more difficult to find and keep good jobs.

Manufacturing is one of the first three National Skills Academies to drive up the standard of industry training, improve productivity and tackle skills shortages across England.

The aim is to have up to 12 academies for different industries operational by 2008 and the Government is investing £90 million in the programme which will be delivered through the Learning and Skills Council working with employers and their Sector Skills Councils.

The aim is an employer-led, world-class National Skills Academy network to provide vocational education and training for school leavers and adults, tailor made to meet the specific needs of industry sectors and those who work in them.

The first three are Financial Services, Construction, and Manufacturing. A fourth, representing the Food and Drink sector is close to being approved.

Bids from the nuclear industry; the chemical industry; the hospitality sector; and the creative and cultural industries have been accepted by the Government and will now be invited to work up business plans ready for the next stage of the process.

Posted 29/01/07

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