By Marcus Leach

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has signed a contract with the Manufacturing Advisory Consortium (MAC) to deliver the new Manufacturing Advisory Service in England.

The Consortium, compromised of Grant Thornton UK LLP, Pera, WM Manufacturing Consortium Ltd and SWMAS Ltd., was awarded the contract in October 2011.

The Manufacturing Advisory Service will continue to deliver a service to all manufacturing businesses but the new consortium now means that there will be a specific focus on:

* driving business growth through strategic and technical support for SMEs developing Advanced Manufacturing capabilities and creating high value jobs;

* enabling business improvement with manufacturers operating in global supply chains; and

* linking SMEs with the Apprenticeship programme delivering a minimum of 1,250 engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships annually.

The new service will start on 1 January 2012 and could help create £1.5bn in economic growth, 23,000 jobs and safeguard 50,000 jobs.

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