The ambition to create 7,000 new jobs on the new International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) bordering Sunderland and South Tyneside represents an important element of the Strategic Economic Plan for the region. Creating More and Better Jobs through priority sectors such as Advanced Manufacturing is a key objective for the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.
The availability of a skilled workforce to support this growth in advanced manufacturing is an important issue for existing businesses in the region, and for potential new investors. The employment market is already tight, some skills are scarce, and many highly-skilled employees who helped establish automotive manufacturing in the region in the mid-1980s are now retiring.
We were commissioned by Sunderland City Council, in conjunction with the North East Automotive Alliance, to identify actions which could help the sector in the North East sustain the workforce capability it needs to support growth and new investment.
We conducted structured interviews and meetings with representatives from industry, education and training, and other subject matter experts, and analysed the ability of the local employment market and education pipeline to meet future industry requirements. We identified opportunities to leverage best practice and collaboration within the region, and to build a stronger STEM pipeline and more attractive employment proposition. We also highlighted opportunities to create more high-value jobs by supporting the growth of emerging advanced technology businesses in the region. We prioritised six recommendations which have now been adopted by the Board of the North East Automotive Alliance as their Skills Strategy.