Manufacturing employers from across Leeds will come together next week to launch a programme of events aimed at highlighting the latest career opportunities available in the modern manufacturing and engineering sectors in the city and the wider region.
A high-profile launch event kicking off the Leeds Manufacturing Festival will take place at Leeds City College’s flagship Printworks Campus on 22 February, with keynote speakers West Yorkshire Mayor Tracey Brabin and Stephen Phipson, chief executive of manufacturing employers’ organisation MAKE UK topping the bill.
West Yorkshire is home to around 5,600 manufacturing firms employing over 104,000 people and Leeds is the UK’s third largest manufacturing centre by local authority area.
Leeds Manufacturing Festival, now in its sixth year, will focus on connecting young people with potential employers, addressing the recruitment challenges that continue to affect the industry, with 85% of employers in the sector struggling to recruit new talent, according to a British Chambers of Commerce survey published this month.
The 2023 festival programme, which runs until July, will include a manufacturing careers showcase, where employers will meet students to talk about the varied roles on offer within the industry; a careers panel enabling school students to question employers and current apprentices face-to-face about the realities of working in manufacturing; as well as factory visits to firms across Leeds.
A highlight of the festival will be the return of the Next Gen Awards, in April, celebrating the achievements of outstanding young people working in the industry and a new category recognising the commitment of employers to training and development of their employees.
West Yorkshire Mayor Tracey Brabin said: “Young people are key when it comes to building a green and resilient manufacturing sector – and there are so many exciting opportunities for them across our region. Whether it be as a budding engineering specialist or a bespoke furniture craftsperson, innovative new ways of manufacturing will help us to achieve our ambition of becoming net-zero by 2038.”
“This unique festival will provide insight into selling West Yorkshire products in the UK and beyond and is sure to inspire the next generation to boost their skills and pursue a career in manufacturing.”
MAKE UK’s Stephen Phipson added: “Manufacturing already provides 2.5m jobs across the whole of the UK, jobs which pay higher wages than the whole economy and give lifelong opportunities for career progression and development. The sector is responsible for 64% of all UK industrial research and development and just over half of Britain’s exports are goods.”
“However, there are currently 78,000 manufacturing vacancies across the UK with many companies saying that key roles are remaining unfilled for 12 months at a time. This chronic labour shortage highlights the vital importance of events like Leeds Manufacturing Festival in attracting new talent into our vibrant, innovative and exciting sector.”
Ben Wilson, chair of Leeds Manufacturing Alliance and director of Leeds-based glass reinforced plastic moulds manufacturer MPM, said: “As we get ready to launch the sixth year of the festival there’s a real buzz around the initiative, with both manufacturing employers and students across Leeds excited about the upcoming programme of events.”
“The festival is all about highlighting the huge range of exciting and well-paid careers that are on offer in the sector. Modern workplaces and innovation are hallmarks of manufacturing in Leeds and we should look to a bright future, and not the misplaced stereotypes of the past. People working in the sector derive immense satisfaction and pride from being part of a practical process that is, actually making things – it’s a hugely creative industry and a great sector to work in.”
Also featured in the Leeds Manufacturing Festival launch event on 22 February will be a panel of industry experts who will take questions from the audience. The line-up will include Amanda McLaren, managing director of iconic Leeds textile company AW Hainsworth; Mitch Scott, head of engineering at Leeds City College; Matt Booth, business manager from manufacturing and engineering sector recruiter E3 Recruitment’s, as well as manufacturing festival chair Ben Wilson.
To find out more about the festival and get involved, visit the event website here