Last updated: 18.05.13

Labour MP seeks better training for manufacturers

A Yorkshire MP has called for manufacturers in the region to improve the skills of their employees and embrace new ways of financing business.

Barry Sheerman, the Labour representative for Huddersfield, was speaking at a debate on the future of British industry when he warned companies must take steps to better educate their workforce.

The politician claimed during the Manufactured Yorkshire event - which took place at John Smith's Stadium in the market town - that local in-work training is below the national average and at present, management practices are not good enough.

"People should not be complacent about where we will end up if we don't concentrate on high skills and high pay when the skills are there," he stated.

Mr Sheerman - who is the former chairman of the government's education and skills select committee - urged manufacturing firms to work closer with leaders in the further education and university sectors and view local institutions as their natural partners.

He also said that at present, just 14 per cent of employees in Yorkshire's manufacturing industry have a degree, compared to 19 per cent nationally, while ten per cent of them do not have any qualifications - two per cent more than the rest of the country.

It was noted at the event - which was attended by a number of supply chain leaders - that more manufacturers are returning to the UK due to higher transportation costs, which means it is more important than ever that all workers in the industry are equipped with the relevant skills.

Those who went to the conference also heard that the sector employs between 260,000 and 300,000 people in Yorkshire, making up between eight and ten per cent of the workforce.

Bosses that require some extra assistance in providing their staff with better skills could turn to online learning institutions like Virtual College. 

The Ilkley-based company offers digital modules through its Yorkshire Productivity team, who specialise in the delivery of manufacturing training such as LEAN and Business Improvement Techniques to firms across the north of England.