Manufacturing week launched to inspire 20,000 students into the sector

An initiative to educate young people about career opportunities in the manufacturing sector is being launched in Bradford this week.

Bradford Manufacturing Week will take place from 8-12 October, led by West & North Yorkshire Chamber and backed by the newly-formed Bradford Economic Partnership. It aims to introduce the district’s manufacturers to young people and boost apprenticeship numbers.

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.

Bradford’s major manufacturers including BASF, Keighley Laboratories and Thorite are supporting the initiative and Barclays is the headline sponsor. 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.

Garthwaite said: “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 £1.5bn 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.

“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,” added Garthwaite.

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.”