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North West manufacturing boost with further Made Smarter government backing
February 22, 2021

A North West pilot which has helped hundreds of SME manufacturers access technology and digital tools to boost productivity, growth and create jobs, is to continue as part of an £8m government roll-out. The successful initiative becomes part of the Government’s Made Smarter Adoption programme, which now expands into the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands regions. It means hundreds of more manufacturers in Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and Liverpool City Region will be able to learn how digital transformation can help them recover, grow, and create resilience. Donna Edwards, Made Smarter’s North West adoption director, said: “I am delighted that the Government has continued to support the North West Adoption programme. “Over the last two years we have worked tirelessly to drive digital technology usage among SME makers across the North West with significant success. “The programme has proven the value technology can bring to the manufacturing sector. We have helped hundreds of North West makers start their digital journey by providing them with specialist advice to help them select the right approach, level of investment and tools for their business. “With the additional funding, we are able to continue reaching out to the region’s SME manufacturers to connect them to the tools that will make an everyday difference to their businesses.” Since its launch two years ago, the North West programme has engaged with 1,165 businesses in the region to help them join the Industry 4.0 revolution. Of those, 568 have received intensive support including expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help take their first steps to transform their business, a leadership programme, and funded digital technology internships. And 145 businesses have secured £3.5m matched funding for 180 projects, leveraging £10m of private sector investment. These projects are forecast to deliver an additional £138m in gross value added (GVA) for the North West economy over the next three years, create more than 800 new jobs, and upskill 1,700 existing roles.

Vehicle manufacturer to take on 17 new apprentices in 2021 intake
February 08, 2021

Lancashire manufacturer Leyland Trucks has opened recruitment for its apprenticeship scheme, planning to take on a minimum of 17 to strengthen its team, and coinciding with National Apprenticeship Week. Leyland Trucks, based at Croston Road in Leyland, is recruiting 10 assembly operatives, four automotive engineers, two design engineers and one fabrication and welding engineer, having recently offered permanent positions to the 29 apprentices that completed their courses in 2020. Each year, the company projects how many apprentices it needs to hire to fill skills gaps left by those retiring from the business and to meet new and emerging skill requirements, opting to introduce young talent to ensure they become an integral part of the succession planning of the business. Leyland Trucks said it is committed to supporting and nurturing people who join the scheme, and during the 2020 lockdown enabled its apprentices to continue their education by working with local colleges to deliver lessons remotely. All apprentices worked extremely hard and completed their qualification within the timeframe allocated. Depending on the type of apprenticeship undertaken, and the area where the apprentice is due to work, the duration of an apprenticeship with Leyland Trucks lasts between two and five years. On successful completion of the apprenticeship, the individual receives a recognised qualification which can then be used to progress their education and career further within the business. The apprenticeships are available to GCSE school leavers who achieve a minimum of five 9-4 grades at GCSE, including maths, English and science. Applicants for the design engineering will need a minimum of CCC at A-level/BTec – equivalent to 96 UCAS points – from an engineering related qualification. Leyland Trucks HR director, Ivan Shearer, said: “Every year we bring on a new stream of local, young talent who fully embrace our apprenticeship programme, throwing themselves into the world of engineering, and every year we get excited afresh about how much value they might each bring to the industry. “Our current apprentices – like us – weren’t prepared for the turbulence the pandemic would inflict on the earliest days of their careers, but they each showed commitment to the programme and we were able to reward those graduating with the offer of permanent positions with the company.            

Employment park extension could create 1,500 jobs
January 20, 2021

A developer has called for public consultations on a new £70m Wigan employment park that could create up to 1,500, including around 600 jobs and apprenticeships during construction. But the proposals by Manchester-based Glenbrook have already met with opposition from local groups fearful of the loss of greenbelt land. Glenbrook wants to build the scheme on a 40-acre site, Meridian 6 Wigan, which has been allocated for employment use since 2006, and which will act as the extension to South Lancashire Industrial Estate in Ashton in Makerfield. Access would be provided via Bolton Road. The proposals outline the development which will consist of up to 625,000 sq ft of new industrial space to meet the significant regional demand from small to medium-sized businesses. The scheme will provide an initial investment of £70m. In addition to the consultation website (www.meridian6.co.uk) a residents’ notice has been distributed via Royal Mail to 656 addresses within the local area. The notice provides outline details of the proposals, directs residents to the public consultation website and details a project FREEPOST address, email address and telephone number for more information. Dan Symonds, development manager at Glenbrook, said: “We are bringing this scheme forward at a time when the need to support business and the economy through the creation and retention of jobs in the borough is extremely pressing. “Already allocated for employment use in Wigan Council’s unitary development plan, Meridian 6 Wigan will build on the success of the well-established South Lancashire Industrial Estate and attract more investment and employment opportunities to the area as well as delivering much needed commercial space for local businesses looking to grow.” He added: “Based in the North West, Glenbrook is a well-respected developer and we are working closely with Wigan Council to ensure our plans meet the high development standards required. “The consultation will run for a three-week period and, due to the pandemic, during this time we are offering a wide variety of ways for people to participate and ensure their views and ideas are heard.” The design team includes AEW Architects, Gerald Eve as planning consultant and civil and structural engineers, SGI. However, as soon as news leaked of the proposals, local residents mobilised to oppose the scheme. Keep Ashton Green (KAG) has been formed by resident and Ashton Labour candidate in the May local elections, Danny Fletcher. He vowed to oppose any loss of greenbelt space, and said a similar proposal to extend South Lancashire Industrial Estate in 2006 was thwarted, linked to concerns over traffic and increased congestion.