Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham has underlined his commitment to improving opportunities for young people in the region as he opened a new engineering academy in Salford.
At the launch of Academy at Thermatic, Mayor Burnham said that the importance of creating new training facilities could not be understated because they respond to a very current need and contribute to the growth of the regional economy.
The Academy has been created by Thermatic, a national provider of bespoke heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, based at Sovereign Enterprise Park in Salford.
It has been developed in partnership with the Salford Foundation which supports social and academic development of young people and adults in Greater Manchester. Its aim is to help address the growing skills shortage in the engineering sector and to make engineering more appealing and accessible for young people, regardless of gender.
Annually, there is a shortfall of around 59,000 engineering graduates and technicians to fill core engineering roles in a sector which employs 5.5m people, generating revenue of £456bn to the UK economy, 27 per cent of the total UK GDP.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, said: “Facilities such as Thermatic’s are not only providers of knowledge and skills but they are also economic drivers, because they help increase opportunity, improve productivity, reduce wealth inequalities and help meet the need of the communities and region in which they are based.
“My ambition in Greater Manchester is to create an integrated employment and skills eco-system which has the individual and employer at its heart and contributes to the growth of our economy.
“I want to see an employment and skills system where young people will leave education with the attributes they need to succeed. There is a skills shortage in key sectors in this country and it is vital that we work together to equip young people, as well as adults, to bridge that gap, improve their chances, develop a career and help drive the region forward.
“This a huge challenge and one that might only get worse during this time of unprecedented change, so Thermatic’s specialist academy is a wonderful and much needed addition to our education offer.
“It has the capability to encourage young people and those from outside the industry to consider a career in engineering and construction and I am confident that Thermatic’s ambition will be realised and its success will benefit many.”
Thermatic’s hope is also to encourage a new perception of the engineering industry and the new academy is part of their ongoing ‘Women in Engineering’ campaign which has already seen two new female HVAC engineers taking up roles.
Colin Tennent, Chairman of Thermatic, said: “Our sector is simply not the go-to sector for those leaving school and so this academy is about investing in the future of the community and the industry with the purpose of not only tackling the skills gap in our industry, but also to inspire the next generation to pursue a career in engineering.
“It is also about showing that this sector is open to anyone with a willingness to learn and we want to see many more women joining our team in the near future. We feel that it is our responsibility to sell engineering as a career of choice for all. Our apprenticeship programme will also take high priority in the coming months, with a focus on engaging more apprentices and providing them with the training and development needed to progress within the business and the industry.”
Thermatic’s partnership with The Salford Foundation means the company is able to work with young people in the community and to shine the spotlight on engineering as a career, educating them about the potential of the engineering and construction industry. The team is also liaising with colleges and universities to allow use of their facilities as a venue for lectures and educational visits.
Phil East, Deputy Chief Executive at The Salford Foundation, said: “We are passionate about providing the young people and adults of Salford with the skills and the voice to achieve their goals, be theypersonal, professional or academic. The new Academy at Thermatic will provide opportunities for education, skills and a sense of community for those involved and it will be exciting to see what the future holds.
“Together with Thermatic, we are able to educate youngsters in the area about the engineering and construction industry in the hope of interesting them now and attracting new talent in years to come.”