By Daniel Hunter

The government is joining forces with leading UK automotive manufacturers to boost skills across the sector, inspire the next generation of vehicle makers and create new routes into automotive careers.

Business Secretary Vince Cable announced £11.3 million of government funding alongside a £2.8 million cash investment and £16.4 million in-kind contributions from industry.

The project, developed through the Automotive Council’s Business Environment and Skills Group, brings together major automotive businesses to ensure future skills needs are met for UK vehicle manufacturers and supply chain companies. It follows a successful bid from the group for funding through the government’s Employer Ownership Pilot.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "This investment puts our automotive sector in the driving seat to design the skills our manufacturing companies need. There is a risk that without adequate investment in skills, the industry will run into serious skills bottlenecks.

"Through our industrial strategy we are working in partnership with the automotive sector as it goes from strength to strength. We are providing businesses with the confidence to invest and to create high skilled jobs."

Employment in the automotive industry is set to grow in the coming years, with multi-billion pound investments taking hold and production volumes on course for record levels. With developments such as connectivity and advanced manufacturing taking the sector into exciting new territory, recruitment is a major challenge facing the industry.

Manufacturers will work together to identify and meet the skills needs for their current and future workforces, ensuring the UK automotive industry is in pole position. Young people will also gain first-hand experience of the industry in action, inspiring future generations of engineers and technicians.

Jo Lopes, Chair of the Automotive Industrial Partnership and Head of Technical Excellence, Jaguar Land Rover, said: "The Automotive Industrial Partnership brings together industry employers on an unprecedented scale. By working collaboratively and taking an innovative and sector-wide approach, we are ensuring that the UK’s automotive sector can grow and retain the skills talent that is so vital for the industry’s continued success."

Aston Martin, Bentley, BMW, Ford, General Motors, GKN, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan and Toyota are some of the UK’s biggest automotive employers, and will work together with the government, SEMTA and SMMT through the Automotive Council to boost workforce skills, now and for the long term. This includes creating an industry standard “jobs framework” and identifying employment “hot spots”, to encourage more young people into automotive manufacturing careers and to deliver clear development pathways to help them to progress. Initiatives include:

- giving 4,500 9 year-olds an experience of working in the industry through a one day production simulation

- taking on 960 11 to 16 year-old Industrial Cadets, to develop vital industry skills in team working, communications and problem solving over a 6 day programme

- providing a route to work for 225 19 plus year-olds, with a 15 day programme offering vocational training and simulated work activities designed by their potential future employers. Assessing functional and employability skills will lead to further work experience at a host company, helping young people with little or no workplace experience and vocational skills on a route to possible future apprenticeships

Existing employees at all levels will also benefit from industry collaboration to strengthen their technical, management and leadership skills. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be supported in gaining access to industry standard skills development. While talented, qualified engineers from other professions, such as the Armed Forces, will be able to train to apply their knowledge and skills in the automotive industry.

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