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29 June, 2006 - 11:38 By Staff Reporter

Boost for automotive cluster

The East of England's automotive industry is set to receive a massive skills boost as the result of a funding a and support package from the Learning and Skills Council in Bedfordshire and Luton.

The East of England's automotive industry is set to receive a massive skills boost as the result of a funding a and support package from the Learning and Skills Council in Bedfordshire and Luton.

The new scheme will provide training for at least one thousand management and shop-floor workers from the automotive industry across the region. The LSC said the initiative is being introduced in response to the industry’s request for training initiatives focused directly on business needs and adding value to companies.

The LSC is working with the Automotive Academy, the industry’s national learning centre to ensure that the courses provided are benchmarked to the highest standard.  

The LSC’s head of workforce development, John Thomas, says training in automotive manufacturing and component industries is a major priority in the Eastern region: “We are currently funding the training of 20 assessors by the Automotive Academy to go out to companies and ensure and support the right training and skills can be offered to our workforce and companies. This will give us the capacity to qualify 1000 people across our region within the next 18 months.”

This training initiative brings the work of the Automotive Academy into the East of England for the first time. The business improvement techniques (BITs) qualifications give workers recognition for quality, cost and delivery improvements in the workplace.  

Access to BIT courses will open over the next twelve months and will be available to companies in a range of ways - from in-house training and support, through to private sector or public training providers like colleges and local companies.  The LSC’s John Thomas says “The focus is always on the business needs - giving the business added value with the expertise and knowledge of the Automotive Academy validation.”

John Bradley, Automotive Academy 'spoke' Manager for London and the East of England said: "It's by no means doom and gloom for the automotive manufacturing in the UK. Our industry remains a vital contributor to the British economy worth £46 billion each year.

It employs 176,000 people within 7,600 automotive companies within the UK. 1,088 of those companies are in the East of England. The new Automotive Academy 'spoke' in the region will allow people to develop world class skills across the whole spectrum of automotive employment, from research and development right the way through to what happens after sales.

The East of England is home to one of Europe's largest automotive design and development clusters. OEMs General Motors, Ford, Nissan and Lotus have all established technical centres in the East of England. This is complemented by significant global suppliers such as Visteon, Bertrandt, RLE, Johnson Controls and Collins & Aikman.

 

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