By Max Clarke

Two of the UK’s most important growth industries received a boost today as Skills Minister John Hayes announced a new National Skills Academy (NSA) for Composites and Biotechnology.

The Academy, which will form part of the National Skills Academy for Process Industries, will receive up to £1.98m of funding over 3 years, matched by employers. It will work with employers, the Life Sciences Advisory Council, the National Composites Centre and specialist training providers to develop new professional standards and training programmes that meet the fast evolving skills needs of these hi-tech industries.

Skills Minister John Hayes said:

“Composites and biotechnology are highly competitive sectors around the world and both are poised for substantial growth. If we want to secure that growth and investment in the UK, it's vital that we can provide a highly skilled workforce. The Academy will bring government agencies, education providers and employers together, delivering world class training to keep Britain on the cutting edge of technological progress.”

For Biotechnology, a sector with a turnover of over £5bn and a workforce of around 38,000 is expected to grow through increased adoption of biotechnology by many different sectors in the economy such as pharmaceutical production, fuel production, novel plastics and chemicals. Biotechnology will become increasingly important as it may help the UK meet societal challenges of an aging population, improving sustainability and decarbonising our industry and transport sectors. The growth of companies using biotechnology will be supported by the NSA ensuring they are able to develop a skilled workforce through tailored training packages to meet the industry's changing needs.

For Composites, a sector with a turnover of around £1.5bn, employing over 40,000 people, with recent annual growth of 15% for carbon fibre composites, the NSA can support growth in low carbon technologies and "light weighting" of major structures such as wind-turbine blades and aircraft wings. The key role of the NSA is to raise the quality of composites training as well as improving the skills of the existing manufacturing workforce with composites-specific skills. This includes working with the Sector Skills Councils to develop and implement new apprenticeship frameworks that will deliver more advanced training.