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Aerospace industry must drive skills needs forum told

A shift away from the "culture of celebrity" coupled with an improvement in the image of engineering and science will be required if the UK aerospace industry is to attract a skilled workforce for the future, a conference in the North West was told.

More than 150 delegates at the Annual Northern Aerospace Forum heard that the aerospace sector must universally recognise the challenge of maintaining a highly skilled workforce against a background of falling school rolls and an "image Influenced society" where engineering was often overlooked.

Martin Wright, Chief Executive Officer of the North West Aerospace Alliance (NWAA) told the gathering at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel, Clayton-le-Moors, Lancashire, that the aerospace industry needed to promote engineering as exciting and worthwhile and create a clear demand signal to the educational and training organisations.

"Aerospace cannot tolerate mediocrity, nor can it succumb to any national 'one size fits all' approach. The Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform must recognise the need to tailor skills training to the appropriate level of technology within industry," said Mr Wright.

He added: "The industry must take ownership of the skills demand signal and send a clear message on skills development to the Government. Education providers must react to this signal, and we must create the environment to attract the best people." The third annual forum was organised by a partnership of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the NWAA, The Royal Aeronautical Society and The North West Regional Development Agency.

It examined the issues involved in preserving the capability of the aerospace industry in North West England, with skills development as a central theme.

Speakers included Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills; Professor Gareth Padfield, James Bibby Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Liverpool University and Royal Aeronautical Society President David Rowland.

Press release issued by North West Aerospace Alliance on November 11, 2008


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