In February, senior representatives from leading UK fastener manufacturers attended a CBM Fastener Sector Meeting, held at Dudley College’s Advance 1 Engineering facility, for an intensive and highly informative session on the Apprenticeship Levy and training funding opportunities for SMEs.
The meeting was organised by fastener consultant, Phil Matten, and managing director of Barton ColdForm, an Optimas Company, and CBM board member, Andrew Nuttall. Hosted at Dudley College’s impressively equipped and resources Advance 1 Engineering faculty, Georgina Barnard, the College’s Commercial Director, led a four-strong team of experts.
The Apprenticeship Levy
The afternoon kicked off with a light lunch, kindly provided by the College, and a tour of the Advance facilities led by its Curriculum Manager for Engineering, John Lockley. Reconvening in the Innovation Suite, alongside Dudley’s own Additive Manufacturing room, attendees heard how the College had moved away from traditional ‘off the shelf’ course provision to adopt a highly responsive engagement with employees, to shape and deliver educational programmes to meet their specific needs.
The success of the approach is demonstrated by Dudley College currently achieving an 18% year on year increase in apprenticeship participation at a time when many providers were see declines. There have been headline reports of a 48% drop in apprenticeships since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy.
The meeting heard detailed explanations of how the Apprenticeship Levy worked and how the College was working with employees to obtain maximum benefit. Funding opportunities for non-levy paying SMEs were also explored in detail and CBM attendees had plenty of opportunity to pose questions and receive informative responses from the Dudley team.
UK Skills Gap
The objective of the meeting for Andrew Nuttall, was to try to bring key decision makers in the fastener manufacturing sector up-to-speed with requirements and opportunities and to continue to explore how CBM might contribute to spanning the generally experienced UK skills gap for fastener manufacturing operatives. “It was great for the Dudley College team to provide an in-depth understanding and to answer our questions. There is no question that the UK fastener industry is in real need of an effective skills solution. Bringing that to fruition will not be a short job, or a particularly easy one, and it will really depend on mutual and wholehearted commitment between at least ten UK fastener manufacturers and the CBM. That’s the next stage for Phil and myself to work on.”
This is the third CBM fastener sector meeting within the last six months and Andrew and Phil are already working on the next, with the potential, given sufficient support, that may be held at British Steel’s Wire Rod Mill in Scunthorpe – a rare opportunity to see wire production first hand.
If you enjoyed reading this article you may also like to read our previous post on a recent Forging Collaboration Project.