On Tuesday 2nd December the Manufacturing Technologies Association held their Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Church House in Westminster London.
Attended by over 65 members the AGM included a review of the past year from MTA president Mark Ridgway OBE.
Mark began with the positive news that the past year has seen a net growth in MTA Membership of 9%, and also praised the MACH Committee for the outstanding success that was MACH 2014. £177m of new business was attributed to the event, an increase on MACH 2012 by over 20%. A record 612 exhibitors took space, and visitor numbers were also up by 10% with over 23,000.
The past year saw a major change at the MTA with the retirement of Director General Graham Dewhurst. Mark thanked Graham for his dedication over his tenure and wished him a long and happy retirement. Taking the reins at the MTA is James Selka, now CEO, with Mark commenting that James’ energy and enthusiasm has already made its mark.
2014 has also been a good year for the MTA’s engagement with Government with 3 separate meetings with Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable. Policy areas discussed included funding for the new catapult centres, clarity on dealing with Russia and impact on the manufacturing sector of the Government’s immigration policy.
A lot of work has been undertaken to increase the international reach of the MTA and its members during 2014. This year has seen engagement as far afield as Japan, US, China, Russia, as well as a major presence at MAKTEK in Turkey.
Over lunch Mark made his second speech, during a three course meal also at Church House in London. Mark spoke of the importance of skills, and specifically the issue facing the industry in the skills gap – that it is holding back the whole sector and we’re not doing enough to counter the problem.
“In Germany 1 in 4 companies offer apprenticeships to young people. In the UK it is 1 in 10”
Also during the lunch session was a presentation from Chris Wilson, of Messier Bugatti Dowty, who gave a fascinating insight into the past, presence and future of landing gears.
After lunch it was over to the House of Commons, for a Parliamentary Reception and a chance for MTA members to quiz their local MPs and discuss with Government and Shadow Ministers the implications of their policies for the advanced manufacturing sector. The session was hosted by Iain Wright MP, Shadow Minister for Industries and among the many parliamentary attendees was the Minister of State for Skills and Equalities Nick Boles MP.
In what was his third speech of the day MTA President Mark Ridgway highlighted the importance of UK manufacturing supply chain. He paid tribute to its strengths but also raised concerns about the danger that was posed to it by skills shortages that had to be addressed urgently.
Mark Ridgway said: “To make the most of the success of UK advanced engineering we have to make sure that the benefits get into the heart of the supply chains. There is huge strength and diversity in the UK’s SMES. Because make no mistake, value is created at all stages of the supply chain”
Nick Boles MP said that he wanted to clear up myths and misconceptions around the government’s plans for apprenticeships and training. He said that the future success of apprenticeships lay with devolving funding to employers. He confirmed that this would not be accompanied by any additional burden – either financial or administrative - on companies investing in the future of their businesses through apprenticeships.
Nick Boles also had a request for the advanced manufacturing industry itself – to get out and visit more schools and more colleges to help spread the word about careers in advanced manufacturing. And not just to the 17 year olds in colleges or sixth forms, but also the primary schools and younger people, to get young boys and girls excited about a future in advanced manufacturing.
Iain Wright MP Shadow Minister for Industry, highlighted the great work being undertaken by the MTA on behalf of its members and in particular the tremendous showcase for the industry that was MACH 2014. He too paid tribute to the potential of the UK’s supply chain companies and said that manufacturing matters as it drives so many other areas of the economy forward.