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Deputy PM gets up to speed with manufacturing

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Policy issues and ideas raised earlier this week as part of the “Global Manufacturing Festival: Sheffield” were put into action yesterday at Get Up To Speed, an event aimed at engaging and inspiring the next generation of manufacturers and engineers on ground level.

Nick Clegg said: “As we pick our economy out of the ashes of the financial crisis, we need to ask ourselves: what do we want the new economy to look like? How can we make it better, greener, stronger? What are our true strengths?

“Manufacturing is absolutely central to the answer. The UK already has many manufacturing success stories. But a great deal of potential remains untapped. For too long we failed to fully capitalise on our historic talent for building and making things. Now is the moment to rediscover Britain’s capacity for invention and design.”

The Deputy Prime Minister also praised Sheffield and its businesses for their contribution towards this objective: “Sheffield has a heritage that we should be proud of and provides a clear path for future prosperity.”

His speech followed a government announcement yesterday afternoon that the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing and the Nuclear AMRC, both located at the city’s Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), will be the first of seven centres from across the country to make up one of the new High Value Manufacturing Technology and Innovation Centres (TIC).

Clegg continued: “I believe that the UK should be at the forefront of science, engineering and manufacturing, and the £200m we have committed to centres like this over the next four years is a symbol of the Government’s commitment to supporting this.”

The TIC will draw on university research to accelerate the commercialisation of new and emerging manufacturing technologies.

Richard Noble OBE, whose Thrust 2 programme brought the land speed record back to Britain in 1983, echoed concerns voiced at the Manufacturing Convention over the small number of young people choosing manufacturing as a career choice and a diminishing skill base: “In 20 years, 60 per cent of the aerospace workforce will have gone. We have to do something about it.”

Noble’s latest project, Bloodhound SCC, “provides us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers,” he said.

The 1000mph/133,000hp Bloodhound car is being developed live online with all design and performance data being made available. The Bloddhound Education Programme will then be accesible to all pupils in primary and secondary schools and in further and higher education.

Noble continued: “Nearly 4,000 schools have registered in the first 18 months of the project, plus numerous presentations have been given to other groups and professional institutions, taking the project into the heart of the community and society.”

Meanwhile, Nicola Minichiello (women’s bobsleigh world champion) and Russ Danzey (Sheffield’s next generation of racing driver) both gave inspirational speeches highlighting the fantastic benefits of engineering apprenticeships to over 500 attendees.

Clegg praised the event for giving the region’s young people a chance to see different routes to education: “Events such as this are fantastic at giving young people other alternatives to education. Hopefully you have been inspired enough to go into manufacturing and engineering.”

The Global Manufacturing Festival: Sheffield is a week-long celebration of the manufacturing industry. The festival, in association with the Financial Times, The Manufacturer and EEF, brings together senior leaders from Boeing, Siemens UK, Tata Steel, Westinghouse, Proskills, Bloodhound, Virgin Formula 1, the Nuclear Industry Association and more to address key issues such as emerging international markets, the UK skills strategy for manufacturing, opportunities in the nuclear sector and the key growth area of advanced manufacturing. Events will be shaped around the key themes: education, celebration, improvement, innovation, community and growth.

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