There are 1,100 automotive businesses in the West Midlands, which contribute £3.2bn to the regional economy and employ 46,000 staff.
The WMCA wants to ensure the region’s automotive businesses remain competitive, are ready to adopt emerging new technologies, and have the chance to upskill and reskill staff to help attract investment.
What we are going to do
To support this ambition, the WMCA launched its Automotive Skills Plan at the Ansty base of automation company FANUC UK on the 25th July 2019. The report highlights the following priority areas:
An Automotive Skills Taskforce has been created to support the delivery of the plan and will do this by improving the productivity and skills levels in the region’s automotive industry.
Alongside the plan a £3m fund has been set up to boost skills. The £3m training fund has come from the ‘Beat the Bots’ digital retraining fund and £126m adult education budget, devolved from central government to the WMCA for the first time for the 2019/20 academic year.
What people said about the Skills Plan
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The automotive industry is incredibly important to the West Midlands, and the businesses working here employ 28% of the UK’s overall automotive sector. We are, as JLR proved with its Castle Bromwich commitment, the country’s premier car manufacturing region.
“We have done, and will continue to do, all we can to support the major players like JLR, but the vast majority of those employed in our automotive industry work within the supply chain which is where we want to focus our support with this latest funding.” This £3m fund will act as a catalyst to help future-proof thousands of jobs in the automotive sector, helping employees gain the skills needed to keep the West Midlands at the forefront of the global automotive industry. ”The WMCA says the automotive skills fund will be used to provide training for new automotive staff, and to help re-train existing skilled workers in the supply chain.
Dr Chris Owen, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Industry Forum, said: “The pace of emerging technology means that developing supply chain workforce capability has become even more vital to maintain international competitiveness.”
Alan Yee, engineering director at Contechs automotive engineering firm, said: “From the beginning of education in primary school all the way to university, we are not good at preparing the population for requirements of engineering careers in the modern automotive industry, for much of what was taught in the 1970s right through to the last decade on this subject, is totally out of date now.”
The Automotive Skills Plan will help support the industry to engage with this new emerging technology – including automated, connected and electric vehicles and the digitisation of manufacturing.