Closing gap will boost productivity

The boss of a leading West Midlands training provider believes manufacturers should be focusing on more than just the ‘skills gap’ if they want to save their businesses thousands of pounds in poor productivity.

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Gareth Jones with members of the team. From left: Steve Fletcher, Malcolm Edge, Loz Robinson, Liam Cooper, Raj Ojelay and Jason Daniels

Gareth Jones of In-Comm Training and Business Services feels firms should be paying greater attention to bridging the ‘competency gap’ if they are going to develop the next generation of employees.

The Black Country-born managing director has cited the importance of showing young people how the skills and knowledge they are learning can be applied on the shop floor and the only way they can do that is to ensure they have access to industry experience.

“All we constantly hear about is bridging the skills gap and, whilst we should start there, we should be ensuring they go on to the next level.

“There is no substitute for showing apprentices how the attributes they are gaining can be used to improve efficiencies, come up with new solutions or meet Just-in-Time deliveries,” explained Mr Jones.

“And that is where experienced trainers come into their own, trainers who have been experts in their field and want to pass some of that knowledge, experience and common sense down to the next generation.”

He continued: “We have just recruited another three trainers to help with expansion at our academies in the Black Country and Shropshire and this takes us up to 18. Between them, they have over 330 years’ experience of working across every manufacturing sector imaginable, from automotive and aerospace to food and pharmaceutical.

“They cover all of the main competence gaps in industry, with specialists in maintenance, quality, production, health and safety and management systems.”

2016 was a major year of growth for In-Comm, with more than £700,000 invested into its academies in Aldridge and Shrewsbury so that it can support more than 450 learners to complete Intermediate, Advanced and Higher qualifications.

The money has been channelled into equipping the workshops with new lathes and milling machines, CNC capabilities, a new electrical section and an increased number of MIG/TIG/MAA welding stations.

Two new CAD design centres have been created, including the integration of the latest CAD/CAM software.

Mr Jones went on to add: “We are playing an integral role in roll-out of the new Marches Centre for Manufacturing Technology (MCMT) in Bridgnorth, a more than £3 million project that has been supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and will cater for over 2020 apprentices and learners by 2020.

“This is a really bold step and one that brings together a consortium of partners including ourselves, Grainger & Worrall, Classic Motor Cars and Salop Design & Engineering.

“The LEP listened to what employers wanted and, through the Government Skills Capital Initiative, are letting us drive the provision.

“It has the potential to bridge the competency gap that so much of industry is simply not paying attention to.”

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