Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has announced the expansion of its pioneering new education programme, aimed at boosting the skills of engineers working within the automotive supply chain and other hi-tech industries. The Advanced Skills Accreditation Scheme (ASAS) was formally launched by Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, at the company’s product development centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire.
This sector-wide skills programme, led by SEMTA the sector skills council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies is supported through the Government’s Growth and Innovation Fund. Through the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, £1m is being injected to enable the expansion of this approach widely beyond JLR to boost the nation’s high-level engineering skills. The ASAS education scheme, based on a programme developed by JLR in partnership with leading English Universities, offers engineers the chance to develop the green and future engineering skills which will be needed to create world-leading new products and technologies over the next decades.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said, 'This is the sort of innovative idea that will help address the crippling shortage of trained engineers in the UK. It’s fantastic that JLR sees benefit not just of making itself competitive but also collaborating across the sector to help make British advanced manufacturing increasingly competitive. The best solutions are found when business, universities and Government work together and this is an excellent example of partnership working to face future challenges.'
JLR Executive Director Mike Wright said, 'JLR has already begun the largest advanced engineering skills programme in the UK, to help us to deliver our low carbon vehicles of the future. We are planning for more than half of our 6,000 engineers to take part in the programme. If UK companies are going to be able to compete successfully in the future, we need to raise the skill levels throughout the supply chain and UK manufacturing as a whole.'
Lynn Tomkins, SEMTA’s UK director of operations said, 'We believe that this programme will transform Higher Education opportunities for all employers, particularly small and medium enterprises. It’s exactly what is needed and it is fantastic that they have worked with us to broaden the benefits to more employers. Lack of high level skills is one of the barriers to economic growth and this significant investment will go some way to addressing the issue. It is important that employees from all backgrounds with the aptitude to develop skills are given the opportunity, which is why not basing access to master’s level training purely on academic ability makes this programme unique.'
The new scheme is expected to involve engineers from more than 2000 companies in England taking 5000 Master’s Degree module places over the next two years. JLR Engineering Director Bob Joyce, said, 'JLR originally developed the scheme to raise the skill levels among our employees, and over a two-year period more than 1,000 engineers have been through the programme. The next generation of green, high performance products demand very different concepts and technologies, and our engineers need to be equipped to deliver those innovations.The Advanced Skills Accreditation Scheme offers supply chain companies access to Master’s level education tailored to their business needs, from a network of the best Universities.'
The education scheme is designed so that participants can select from more than 50 course modules covering different advanced skills and technologies, such as hybrid technology or sustainable powertrains, which then count towards a qualification up to a Master’s level degree. The scheme is run by WMG at the University of Warwick and delivered through collaboration with a network of leading Universities, with each module delivered by a University chosen for its research expertise in a given topic. Following the success of the programme within its own organisation, JLR approached Semta the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies to help extend the scheme to automotive supply chain companies and other hi-tech industries.
In partnership with Semta, and with financial assistance from the Government-supported Growth and Innovation Fund, ASAS is now being made available to companies of all sizes in England. Coordination of the relationships with educational establishments is being managed by WMG, while an Employer board, featuring representatives of leading technology companies and chaired by JLR will oversee the quality and delivery of the overall project. It is hoped that after rolling out the scheme first across the Greater West Midlands and then England over the next two years, that it will be extended UK-wide in the future.
'This innovative project has transformed the delivery of Master’s level education to engineers, and after seeing the successful impact of developing the skills of experienced JLR engineers, we believe it can drive productivity, growth and job creation across the UK’s high-tech manufacturing industry,' added Bob Joyce.
For further details on the role out of the ASAS programme please contact SEMTA Customer Services on 0845 643 9001 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
The initial University partners to support the Technical Accreditation Scheme are the Universities of Warwick, Loughborough, Cranfield, York, Coventry, Southampton and Bradford. The £ 1 million funding comes from the Growth Innovation Fund.