Ensuring that the manufacturing industry is completely future-proofed is an essential and ongoing task that the government and leading companies from within the sector are constantly seeking to solve and refine. The government’s recent announcement that the Materials Science Technologist (Level 6) Degree Apprenticeship has been approved, after two years of development, has spread optimism within the industry that the UK is prepared for the future.
We take a closer look at exactly what the course entails, whilst also taking a wider look at the impact this course, and others, will have on the future of the manufacturing industry.
What Is Included in The New Apprenticeship?
The Materials Science Technologist Degree Apprenticeship provides a bachelor’s degree and extensive workplace experience, which allows all apprentices who have completed the course to easily transition into a fully-fledged job within the industry. Following the national programme’s approval by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, this course is available to all students, universities and employers in the UK.
One of the major benefits this particular apprenticeship provides to employers is that it is completely customisable and can be amended to meet the needs of any manufacturing organisation. For example, students can work with almost any materials within a manufacturing setting, from metals to rubbers and composites – this makes it perfect for almost any manufacturing business to take on students for work placements.
Industry experts have already applauded the governments decision to back this new course, with many of them stating that it is the ideal opportunity for the industry to address the ever-growing skills gap within manufacturing. Industry bosses are hopeful that the course will allow students to undertake technical on-the-job training, allowing them to be more prepared for a career within the manufacturing and engineering industry.
At present, the course is being supported by Staffordshire University, Sheffield Hallam, Queen Mary University of London, the University of Birmingham and the University of Derby. However, the number of universities offering this course is expected to rise in the coming years due to the inevitable popularity of the course.
Addressing The Skills Gap In the Manufacturing Industry
It’s no surprise that an apprenticeship such as this has been approved by the government, with cries from the sector about the lack of skilled workers exiting current university courses. There’s been no lack of coverage about the sheer lack of young skilled workers entering the manufacturing industry in the last few years; with more experienced and skilled workers coming towards retirement age recently, companies have struggled to replace those workers with young employees of a similar calibre.
The vast majority of manufacturing employers have made it clear that they were struggling to find young people coming through university with the necessary qualifications and skills that would enable them to fit into their business quickly and effectively. Whilst manufacturing bosses conceded there would be an inevitable bedding in period for any graduates coming directly from university, there was no evidence that some young workers were anywhere near ready for the fast-paced nature of the manufacturing industry.
The new course that has been introduced will give students a far more advanced look at manufacturing and the science of materials used throughout the sector. This will inevitably lead to the students going into the workplace with a far greater understanding of how materials can be best used in practice within a manufacturing setting. Beyond this, the course will place heavy emphasis on more problem solving and effective production techniques, two skills which are at the heart of any manufacturing business.
The hope is, that by best preparing young people on the course for working life within this new apprenticeship, the transferable skills they learn from within the course will help to alleviate some of the concerns manufacturing businesses have about the ever-growing skills gap within the industry. Whilst it’s fair to say that only time will tell if the new apprenticeship will have the desired effect, there is genuine optimism from those within the industry that this course could well be the start of a more effective form of apprenticeship within the industry.
At European Springs & Pressings, we understand just how important it is to consistently grow our young workforce, that’s why we have been taking on apprentices for a number of years now. Our position as one of the UK’s leading spring manufacturers allows us to take on a number of eager apprentices each year, as we look to close the skills gap within the industry by giving each of our young employees the very best education from within our business.
We will continue to refine our apprenticeship offering over the next few years, in line with new government initiatives, to continue providing the industry with capable, skilled young workers.