Category Archives: Manufacturing News

New Employer Partnership To Boost Regional Welding Skills

Bradford College has become the first education partner in the UK to launch the Energas Fabrication Excellence Student Support Scheme.

The programme is part of a wider initiative by Energas, a Air Liquide Group company specialising in cylinder gases and equipment, to address the global shortage of welders that governments and industry bodies are urgently trying to reverse.

In the UK, Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened a national skills shortage, with the number of welders falling by a quarter in five years. Nearly half the nation’s welders are expected to retire by 2027.

The new Energas initiative is helping to stem this decline and support welding educational establishments, such as Bradford College and its students. The partnership will enhance existing college welding equipment, offer grassroots exposure to Energas products and services, and deliver safety and technical advice.

Safety is a crucial focus for the content of support materials designed for all skill sets and which enhance awareness of gases, equipment, storage, handling, and transportation used in metal fabrication processes.

Bradford College Trinity Green Campus currently offers Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications in Welding and a Level 1 Certificate in Engineering Fabrication and Welding alongside other Level 2 and 3 Engineering qualifications.

Tony Carter, Lecturer in Fabrication and Welding at Bradford College, said: “We’re delighted with the bespoke package of support Bradford College has been offered, taking in to account our specific needs as an education provider. Energas will now be the go-to welding equipment and gas supplier for all students, including workwear, PPE, and ongoing consumable supplies.”

“This mutually beneficial agreement is driving footfall into the local Energas branch and increasing web traffic while also giving our students access to the latest industry equipment and sector knowledge.”

Bradford College has placed a large order with Andrew Bamford, Account Manager for Energas Bradford, for eight high-quality Lincoln Electric welding machines for MIG and TIG applications, plus a range of other metal fabrication cutting and welding equipment.

The state-of-the-art equipment will be used to train students at all levels – from those starting out in the field to experienced welders looking to upskill in new techniques, including individuals joining new part-time/night classes at Trinity Green Campus.

In recognition of the collaboration, Bradford College has also placed the Energas logo on welding marketing materials, new learner welcome packs, departmental banners, and safety posters to boost the Bradford Energas branch presence within student learning spaces.

Students will also benefit from an Energas discount scheme and QR codes for quick access to offers and support in a dedicated section of the Energas website.

Forbes England, Fabrication Excellence Market Manager for Energas, said: “Welding is an essential trade for future economic growth in the UK and so collaborative work like this is vital if we are to stop the decline in skilled welding professionals.”

“This is a fantastic example of a local business, Energas Bradford, supporting nearby welding education at Bradford College. By partnering together, we are united in our ambition to attract more individuals into a diverse and exciting industry offering international job opportunities across sectors and specialisms.”

Career Opportunities In The Spotlight In Leeds Festival

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

125 Year Old Skipton Business Sold

DMH Stallard advised Comptoir General Du Ressort C.G.R. SAS, on the acquisition of the entire share capital of John Binns & Sons (Springs) Limited, based in Skipton, North Yorkshire.

Based in France, CGR is an engineering business, with operations in Europe, America and Asia, specialising in co-engineering and serial production of metal and plastic components, based on cold forming technology. CGR had group turnover of Euro 196m in 2022 and works in the supply automotive, aviation and electronics industries.

John Binns & Sons (Prings) Limited has been operating for 125 years, from a base in Skipton, and recently invested in new technology, supporting lean tech for its complex spring production to a broad customer base. John Binns will continue with its present management team under CGR ownership.

Jean-Marie Lavirotte, Business Development Manager at CGR, said: “JB Springs is a fantastic opportunity for CGR to establish a first base in the UK. DMH Stallard played a key role helping us to close the deal.”

Jonathan Grant, Partner and Head of Corporate at DMH Stallard, said: “CGR is a great client to work with and we enjoyed helping deliver this deal for them. In challenging times for many businesses, it is good to see a French business broadening its international network into England.”

The buyer was advised by DMH Stallard (legal), and Russ Cahill (tax). The sellers were advised by Squire Patton Boggs (Legal), and Mazars (Corporate Finance). Financing was provided by BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole.

Leeds Semiconductor Distributor Records 140% Growth

Leeds-based semiconductor distributor celebrates 140% growth to £39m creating 20 new jobs as it eyes US market expansion.

IC Blue, the Leeds-based global supplier of electronic components, is seeking another 20 linguists as the business continues to see significant international sales growth with revenues rising by over 139% in the last year alone.

Founded in 2003, IC Blue supports the electronic manufacturing industry with component sourcing, excess inventory management and design automation software. With its 5,000sq ft European headquarters located in Neptune Street in Leeds city centre, it also has offices in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Hungary, and it established an EU zone shipping hub in the Netherlands three years ago.

The company, whose growth has been supported by Leeds City Council and Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), opened a 10,000sq ft inspection and logistics facility in Holbeck, Leeds, in 2021, supported by a grant from the LEP’s Business Growth Programme, resulting in the creation of a further eight jobs.

The business, which is 80% export-based, has grown from a revenue of £7.9m in 2020, to £16.5m in 2021 and to £39.5m in 2022 – a rise of around 400% in the last three years. Its team has increased from 30 to 50 people and IC Blue is currently recruiting for another 20 Yorkshire-based linguists and support staff to help manage customer relationships globally. IC Blue currently has 20-plus different language speakers in-house, servicing over 900 customers across 50 countries.

“Having spotted a gap in the component distribution sector, we have been able to take advantage of Yorkshire’s heritage as a semiconductor cluster, based on Premier Farnell’s legacy, and established ourselves as a leading independent supplier across Europe,” explains Matthew Ward, director of IC Blue.

“Sitting between direct manufacturer supply and mainline distribution, we have shaken up traditional semiconductor supply chains by providing accountable procurement services, designed to meet the needs of mid-sized businesses, and a reliable route to realising value from excess components and reducing waste of precious metals and components.”

“Our home in Leeds provides an ideal base, offering cost efficiencies over other regions as well as a pool of really talented, well-educated people looking for exciting career opportunities which enable them to stay in Yorkshire. We’re fortunate to have been supported by the Leeds City Council and the LEP, which recognised our potential to create more jobs for the region, and we’re now on the hunt for another 20 recruits to join our fast-growing team.”

He continues: “With just 30% of our sales currently coming from the US, but having seen 300% growth in the last 12 months, we believe this market is key and offers huge potential for further expansion – we will be actively growing our presence there over the next few years.”

IC Blue supplies a wide range of sectors from contract electronics manufacturers (CEM), industrial and automotive to defence and aerospace manufacturing.

With two other divisions providing excess inventory management and design automation software, since 2016, it has also been the sole distributor of Siemens PCB design and simulation software.