Post-Brexit, with an ageing workforce and a shortage of graduates with science, engineering or mathematics qualifications, effective training is needed for younger and older workers

February 18, 2018

 

In April 2017 an apprenticeship levy was introduced. It requires companies with a £3m payroll or above to pay 0.5% of it to the government in return for vouchers, which smaller companies can also access, to spend on apprenticeships . . .

The EEF’s summary – from the employer’s perspective

The FT’s Business editor writes: “It is now clear that the UK government’s apprenticeship levy simply isn’t working. Apprenticeships fell by more than a quarter in the last three months of 2017 year on year, having fallen by 60% in the previous three months. Since April, when the levy was introduced, there have been just 158,000 apprenticeship starts, compared with 269,000 in the same period a year before”.

Some universities are now offering degree apprenticeships

These offer the opportunity to gain industrial knowledge and practical, relevant experience by combining study with on-the-job training. Leeds Beckett University is one such provider for non-levy and levy paying organisations in Leeds City Region.

And at post-graduate level

The Engineering Integrity Society events have recently included Young Engineers Seminars in January 2018, July 2017, December 2016, for newly qualified engineers from different companies who are encouraged by more senior engineers to attend. EIS is a long established charitable society, which focusses on the areas of fatigue, testing and durability. EIS members have many years of experience in these fields gained through working in some of the best-known companies in the industry.

“The levy has led employers to recoup the cost of existing in-house training schemes by relabelling them as apprenticeships” 

This Times leader also points out: “Ofsted cannot cope and the reasons are not complicated. The new apprenticeships target has increased its workload but its budget has been cut by 38% over the last two parliaments: it stood at £200 million in 2011 and will fall to £124 million by 2020. Reversing this cut would be easy to justify if the apprenticeship levy were working, since this would in due course drive up wages and tax revenues as well as skills. But the levy is not working. It was meant to incentivise large employers to invest more in apprenticeships by requiring them to pay into a central fund from which they can claim back some or all of their training costs.”

MP Meg Hillier, chairman, adds that parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has found that private providers are paid with taxpayers’ money to deliver public services but that government sometimes fails to monitor the results or penalise those that do not deliver.

A number of private providers have failed – the most widely publicised being First4Skills (funded by the government’s Skills Funding Agency) – and including Talents Training and Shared Educational Services Limited – leaving the apprentices and the institutions which hired them in serious difficulties.

Undeterred, last month the Cabinet Office launched a policy paper: Shared Services strategy for government.

Mission impossible? “The government is seeking to boost the number of apprenticeships at the same time as slashing the budget for Ofsted who are responsible for enforcing quality”

This is the charge made in another Times article, by Joe Dromey, senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, who has given evidence to the education select committee’s inquiry into apprenticeships.

The FT’s Business editor believes that the need for training and reskilling is imperative at a time when manufacturing is at a turning point, with the industrial internet about to revolutionise processes and business models and the integration and linking of big data, analytical tools and wireless networks with physical and industrial equipment. 

 

 

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Nov 1-2: Mechatronic Solutions launch the Podconnect at the NEC

November 1, 2017

We return to Mechatronic Solutions after this two year old post was selected by most of the visitors to this site last month – the majority coming from the United States.

A fact summary:

This company designed its first robot for the Morgan Matroc ariel assembly in 2000 and the  Kaizen workshop was developed in 2002, described on this site in 2015.  – see with Change Agent Andrew Thomas.

It now offers RoboPod, a standardised platform for robot applications that they say ‘represents a first in the industry’ used in these sectors:

and also automotive  aerospace, packaging, process automation and testing

Robopod have unveiled the Podconnect, an Automated Intelligent Vehicle (AIV) which – as its name suggests – has in-built intelligence and can operate autonomously. It connects machines and systems for ultimate efficiency: “Automated logistics and safe, efficient delivery of materials make the manufacturing environment work seamlessly with other functions”.

As well as these physical and logistical benefits, Podconnect provides detailed information back to managers; providing valuable statistics on performance, output, stock and flows. See a video here.

The Advanced Engineering Show 2017 is described as ‘The UK’s largest annual gathering of advanced engineering professionals’. It attracts professionals from across the UK and worldwide advanced engineering industries: including managers and directors as well as those specialising in fields as diverse as Research and design (R&D), Design, Test engineering, Production, Logistics and Procurement.

On 1st November, the 2-day exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham will see Mechatronic Solutions launch Podconnect AIV Autonomous Intelligent Vehicle plus a new Robopod brochure setting out information about the whole range. 

 

 

 

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DK Rewinds: maintaining and manufacturing spares for traction motors

May 6, 2017

DK Rewinds a Smethwick family business founded in 1976 by Mr Harbhajan Singh Bhogal, has two sites in the area, employing over 60 full time staff, including three electrical engineering apprentices.

It provides a “One Stop” repair and rewind service for traction motors in the utilities, rail (below) and industrial sectors.

It has a dedicated staff and specialist equipment providing a comprehensive maintenance service for those three sectors.

Its extensive CNC machine shop manufactures spares for many different types of electric motors in use all over the world today.

 The British rail freight company English, Welsh and Scottish Railway Company (EWS) was taken over by DB Schenker but trains still carry the EWS liveries and logos

The company was visited last year by London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross, who met staff and talked about their work.

Balvinder S Bhogal, managing director and Val Shawcross

DK Rewinds supplies components and undertakes repairs to keep London Underground trains operational. It specialises in repairing the traction motors that power Central Line trains, producing new components for motors that match the originals so that faulty trains can be quickly fixed and brought back into service.

Balvinder Bhogal said: “We have been working with Transport for London for 30 years as a key supplier. This has enabled DK Rewinds to invest in our workforce, which includes training apprentice and graduate engineers. The work we receive from TfL is very important to the Midlands and the region benefits greatly from these business links.”

The latest news: DK Rewinds attended the Freight in the City’s summit, Improving the last mile’, on 1st March 2017 at Edgbaston Stadium.

 

 

 

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Subcon Lasers: ‘in the forefront’ due to continual investment in the latest technology

April 16, 2017

Subcon Laser Cutting, based in Nuneaton, invests in the latest technology available to keep at the forefront of a rapidly changing and challenging manufacturing environment.

Business Desk published news of its acquisition of the UK’s first 8kw fibre laser cutting system with Cooline technology, which helps to cut fine detail into thick material and is controlled remotely using the latest iPad technology. This machine, installed at the end of 2016, was supplied and made by the Trumpf Group in Germany and the investment is already opening up opportunities including new orders from India, with further enquiries from Belgium, Switzerland and Italy.

Production Engineering Excellence Magazine, which covers the latest technological developments relevant to production engineers and managers, reports that Subcon Laser Cutting received the CET Coventry & Warwickshire ‘Excellence in Manufacturing’ award. The winners were announced at a gala dinner and presentation night at the Ricoh Arena in October.

This interesting photograph shows Subcon’s 5 Axis Laser Cutting TruLaser Cell 7040. Though  other laser cutting services will only work on flat sheet, bar and plate, the 5 axis service is involved with creating high quality 3D parts. It is highly regarded by the automotive industry because it is versatile – can work with anything ranging from prototype/body to supporting all kinds of production lines.

Tom Mongan, general manager of Subcon Laser Cutting, speaks in similar vein to the one of the co-founders of this website, Peter Davies (Professional Polishing, Smethwick), who noted that although the usual downbeat attitude to manufacturing persists, when he attends business gatherings the attitude is buoyant, with news of orders coming in.

Mr Mongan said: “Depending on what you read or who you listen to, they say UK manufacturing lags behind our EU counterparts in productivity and investment, well not from where I am standing and I would like to know who is providing the statistics and information”.

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WMP co-founder named Businesswoman of the Year

December 7, 2015

 bhamawards logo

On Friday 27th of November at the Edgbaston Stadium audiences voiced their appreciation for Birmingham, as the city’s people came together to join finalists, sponsors, ambassadors and judges in a night of celebration and entertainment.

The Birmingham Awards is the first of its kind to encompass a plethora of different categories celebrating everything from the best bars, restaurant and club to small businesses, the best individual business man and woman of the year, best independent retailer and best blogger, to name a few.

Professional Polishing Services attended the event and were ‘very excited’ for not only were they finalists for Business of the Year but their MD, Kirsty Davies-Chinnock, was a finalist for Businesswoman of the Year.

kirsty 2 awards 2015

They are delighted to announce that Kirsty was named Businesswoman of the Year.


Award for co-founder of West Midland Producers website

December 5, 2014

venus award brummieSee The Brummie aggregator site (left) and ‘Our Birmingham’ for more news about Aston’s Kirsty Davies-Chinnock winning a ‘Working Woman’s Oscar’.

In June 2012, Peter Davies, chairman of Professional Polishing, Smethwick, noted that although the usual downbeat attitude to manufacturing persists, when he attends business gatherings the attitude is buoyant, with news of orders coming in. Co-founder Pauline Davies and managing director Kirsty agreed.

This remark eventually led to the setting up of the West Midland Producers website, which records good news from the West Midlands’ small and medium producers, which has not been highlighted in the mainstream press.

After reading Power Capacitors of Tyseley at Westminster a locally based engineer who travels the world in the course of his work emailed: “Glad someone local is making something”.

This underwhelming remark prompted the editor to count the number of firms covered on this site since August 2012 and reply:

“Look at https://westmidlandsproducers.wordpress.com/ and you will see news of 54 WM companies making something – the large majority located in the Birmingham area. There must be so many others in the region. And that is only in the SME sector”.


Solihull-based Koolmill nominated for the British Business Awards 2014 in China

October 6, 2014

best  of british header

Following last year’s news of the 2013 award for Koolmill, which gave a detailed description of this innovative technology, Alec Anderson, Managing Director of Koolmill Systems Limited, writes:

“With 31 machines installed at 6 mills in China and leading the world in the production of healthy “Germ” retaining rice we are delighted and very proud that Koolmill has been named as one of the 5 finalists in the GREAT British Product category of The British Business Awards 2014 in China.

koolmill picture

“Competition is pretty tough with McLaren – formula one and supercars – also a finalist in our category.

“I will be interviewed by the judging panel after the public vote has closed and the winners will be announced in Beijing in November.

“We do appreciate that there are many demands on your time but, if you can spare a few minutes, voting is open until 5pm (UK time) on the 16th October and we would really appreciate your vote. The voting process is not particularly user friendly, you need to register first before you can vote.

“You can vote here http://www.britishbusinessawards.cn/voting/great-british-product/. Please feel free to circulate in your networks and social media”.


Graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme
Midlands Innovation of the Year – Midlands Business Awards 2014
BusinessMasters West Midlands Innovator 2013
Highly Commended Business Innovation – Midlands Family Business Awards 2013
Chinese Government Recruitment Program of Global Experts (www.1000plan.org)
Chinese Government Foreign Expert In the Field Of Technology
Zhejiang Provincial Government West Lake Friendship Award 2010