AUTOMOTIVE SKILLS PLAN - West Midlands Combined Authority

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PURPOSEOF REPORTThe region’s Local Industrial Strategy highlightsthat, performing at its full potential, our economywould be 15.1bn larger.The West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA)Productivity and Skills Commission, which was led byDr Andy Palmer, Chief Executive and President of AstonMartin Lagonda, was set the task of understanding theregion’s productivity gap, identifying the componentcauses and making recommendations to address theissues identified. Recognising the importance of theautomotive sector to the West Midlands’ economy, thecommission identified the need for a clear automotiveskills plan that describes the current and future skillsneeds of the West Midlands automotive sector; thestrengths and weaknesses of the region’s further andhigher education system in addressing these needs;and a clear road-map for developing new co-designedskills solutions. The requirement was for the report tobe clear about the sector’s skills needs and the exactnature of current barriers preventing our training andskills institutions from addressing them. The WMCA hasalso committed to setting out clear and practical actionsto ensure we make the most of available resources(such as the devolution of the Adult Education Budget;the establishment of Institutes of Technology; and themaximisation of the Apprenticeship levy) and existingbest practice, as well as implementing new solutionswhere needed.This report builds on the recommendations andactions in the Local Industrial Strategy, whichrecognises the unprecedented change in transporttechnology expected over the next decade, and usesan evidence-based approach to highlight the keyissues and opportunities faced by the automotivesector. This evidence base includes the results of asurvey of automotive sector employers undertakenby Semta - focussing on current and future skillsrequirements - commissioned specifically to supportthe development of this report. In addition, WMCAin partnership with Semta, has spoken with tradebodies, colleges and universities and trainingproviders, and undertaken a detailed review ofexisting reports and evidence to develop this report(see“The automotive industryis incredibly important tothe West Midlands, and thebusinesses working hereemploy 28% of the UK’s overallautomotive sector workforce.Andy Street, Mayor of theWest Midlands

WHY DO WENEED ANAUTOMOTIVESKILLS STRATEGY?The importance of the automotive industry inthe West Midlands is well documented. In thesecond West Midlands devolution deal, published2017,there was a recognition that: “The governmentwants the West Midlands to be a national andinternational hub for developing new automotivetechnologies, enhancing the UK’s global shareof these key growth sectors and contributing toclimate change and air quality objectives.”The West Midlands has a crucial role to play in theUK automotive sector’s future. The West Midland’sautomotive workforce is more than double the sizeof any other region and we need to ensure that theregion’s automotive employers are able to accessthe volume and range of skills they need to growand prosper.The region will be home to the UK BatteryIndustrialisation Centre (UKBIC), which is due forcompletion in March 2020. The UKBIC will deliver afacility for use by SME-sized companies to developcollaborative R&D projects that can scale up innovativebattery technologies. This will be the catalyst to bringmajor battery manufacturing capability to the UK,creating a new gigafactory and associated supply chain,and will drive the requirement for a new range of skills.For these reasons the automotive sector has beenhighlighted in the Local Industrial Strategy as key inexploiting the market opportunity of ‘Smart Mobility’,where the ambition is for the West Midlands to be thecentre of transport innovation in the UK.

IDENTIFIED ISSUESAND ASSOCIATEDACTIONSIn this section of the report we set out the actionswe will take to address the key issues highlightedby employers and in the evidence review in thecreation of this report.Creating a coherent and seamlessautomotive skills capacity and capabilitythat meets the needs of employersIssuesCurrent provision, serving the regional automotivesector, is characterised by a complicated patchwork ofcolleges, universities, private providers and employers’own training, which employers can find difficult tonavigate. It is recognised that this, coupled with fastchanging skills requirements, headcount reductions anduncertainties over Brexit, will pose particular challengesin ensuring a coherent and seamless skills offer thatmeets the changing requirements of employers. It isrecognised that the provision of a coordinated skillsplan, which meets the future needs of the sector, willnot be addressed by any one single intervention.Success will lie in productive partnerships betweenindustry, academia and skills providers.ActionsBuilding on the good practice and learning from workin the construction sector, the WMCA will create anAutomotive Skills Taskforce. This taskforce will bringtogether employers, training providers, technical andresearch institutions and other local and national keystakeholders to develop high-quality and agile skillssolutions to deliver the future workforce that the region’sautomotive sector needs. The Taskforce will be action focused and act as aconduit between employers and providers.oE mployers will articulate their future skillsneeds, provide their feedback in relation to thesuitability of existing provision, and work withproviders to support future talent and upskillexisting employees.oP roviders will respond to future industry needs,ensuring that provision is fit for purpose,developing new courses, qualifications andpotentially apprenticeship standards to meetfuture requirements.o The taskforce will continue to review and acton evidence to inform further decision makingand plans. Channel up to 3m from regional skills funds into anautomotive skills fund, to provide training for newentrants and re-training for skilled workers in thesupply chain. Identify best practice in training provision deliverednationally, which could address local requirementsand be deployed across West Midlands. Support the development of Continuous ProfessionalDevelopment to grow teaching capability, utilisingestablished WMCA provider working groups. Engage with employers on the taskforce as wellas supply chains, to lead the way in supportingwork experience, apprenticeships and tacklingbarriers to employment.

Developing capacity and capability tomeeting future skills requirementsIssuesAn insight into changing regional skill requirementsprovided by employers gives an indication that in theimmediate one to three years, the most in-demandskills are team working and leadership. The morerecognisable engineering skills highlighted are leanmanufacturing, manufacturing process knowledgeand advanced problem solving, all indicated ascritical requirements.Society’s mobility needs and expectations are becomingmore sophisticated, and new technology is pushingthe boundaries of what vehicles are capable of. At thesame time, the way in which we design, develop andbuild vehicles is evolving, meaning that the skills mixthe sector needs is changing. As such, it is crucialthat the region’s skills delivery capacity supports thismove towards automated, connected and electrifiedtechnologies, together with further automation anddigitisation of manufacturing, both for the existingworkforce, and those coming into the sector.Actions The Automotive Skills Taskforce will oversee thebetter promotion of existing training provision toaddress the current training needs of the industry. Through new automotive-focused skills funding orthrough co-funding, the Automotive Skills Taskforcewill develop the regional approach to create new andadditional Technician level (L4 ) (T-Level) trainingprovision, in order to better address the diversity ofskills and roles required for the future of the industryand deliver at the volume required by employers. We will collaborate with InnovateUK, manufacturersand providers to create technician skills deliverycapacity in support of manufacturing automationand the production of batteries and electric vehiclesin the region. We will encourage the development of newfacilities, including the Greater Birmingham andSolihull Institute for Technology and the proposedWest Midlands Centre for Automotive Skills (CAS),developing competencies in Automotive ProductDesign and Development Engineering. The Automotive Skills Taskforce will encouragepartners and the wider sector to harness thewidespread investments already made in trainingfacilities in the region, utilising spare capacity andoffering a collaborative and flexible approach intraining delivery methods. The Automotive Skills Taskforce will provide employerinput to the West Midlands T-Level Route WayNetworks to support local delivery of qualifications.

Growing Automotive Apprenticeshipsin the West MidlandsIssuesWhilst automotive vehicle manufacturers and largerbusinesses are highly engaged in the delivery ofapprenticeships, more than half of smaller supplychain employers do not recruit apprentices. Thereasons indicated are the challenges they perceivethey will experience, such as lack of staff time, lackof knowledge of the apprenticeship system and newfunding arrangements. They also have the perceptionthey might struggle to find suitable candidates.ActionsThe WMCA is committed to the creation of more highquality apprenticeships to benefit employers andresidents. This will include encouraging the take-up ofapprenticeships in science, engineering, technologyand maths, supporting automotive sector growth. The Automotive Skills Taskforce will promote andraise awareness of apprenticeships, coordinateaccess to information, work with employers toimprove the apprenticeship offer and to alignvacancies, apprenticeship types and candidatesacross the region. Automotive SMEs recruiting apprentices in the WestMidlands can make use of the Apprenticeship LevyTransfer Scheme to fully fund apprenticeships atLevel 3 and above.

CONCLUSIONIf the West Midlands is to continue thelong history of being at the cutting edge ofautomotive manufacturing and realise theambition to be a national and internationalhub for developing new automotivetechnologies, stakeholders in the industrywill need to work together to tackle thechallenges the sector faces and capitaliseon new opportunities.Collaboration will be critical to the success of thedelivery of this strategy. This collaboration will besupported by industry, employer- led institutions,training providers, and other partners who willthemselves and through their networks, progress theactions detailed in this report.The taskforce will focus activity on addressing thehigher level skills requirements that will allow the regionto take advantage of the opportunities presented byLow Carbon Technology, ‘Smart Mobility’ and the furtherdigitisation of manufacturing.You belong.

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automotive sector to the West Midlands’ economy, the commission identified the need for a clear automotive skills plan that describes the current and future skills needs of the West Midlands automotive sector; the strengths and weaknesses of the region’s further and higher education system in addressing these needs; and a clear road-map for developing new co-designed skills solutions. The .

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