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Manufacturing Festival to showcase careers in sector emerging in ‘strong position’ from pandemic

Tracey Dawson and Andrew Wright at Leeds textiles manufacturer AW Hainsworth which manufactures the scarlet cloth used to make ceremonial uniforms for the Royal Guards and the royal family

This year’s Leeds Manufacturing Festival kicks off on 1 February with a launch event that will celebrate the continuing strength of West Yorkshire’s manufacturing industry as it emerges from the challenges of the pandemic, highlighting the range and depth of career opportunities on offer for young people with the right skills in the sector.

The high-profile event, at Leeds City College, will feature a line-up of manufacturing-industry experts including Andrew Wight, non-executive chairman of iconic Leeds textiles firm AW Hainsworth, LEP board member and deputy chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority Business Economy & Innovation Committee.

The 2022 festival will feature a series of manufacturing industry events scheduled across the coming months, including a manufacturing careers showcase hosted by Leeds City College, careers fairs in schools, online careers panels, virtual work experience sessions and visits to some of Leeds’ leading manufacturing firms.

Further events will be added to the programme over coming weeks and manufacturing employers will also be represented at the Leeds Apprenticeship Recruitment Fair taking place at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on Monday 7 February as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

Festival chair and managing director of Leeds-based Daletech Electronics, Tracey Dawson, said: “It is testament to the determination of West Yorkshire’s manufacturers that we are emerging from the challenges of the last two years in a relatively strong position.

“Although the obstacles of escalating costs and Brexit remain challenging, it is without doubt the shortage of technical and practical skills that are critical to the future of the sector that is the biggest hurdle facing manufacturing employers right now.”

She added: “For young people, this is the perfect time to be acquiring the right skill set for a career in our industry as digital transformation projects, new technology and rewarding job opportunities shift perceptions of manufacturing from menial and repetitive tasks to the high-skilled roles and technology-led workplace of tomorrow.”

Andrew Wright said: “AW Hainsworth is facing its own challenges with the recruitment of new talent, and this is reflected across the board for manufacturers in West Yorkshire as we confront a skills gap that has been exacerbated by the pandemic and threatens to become a national crisis.

“Ensuring young people are equipped with the right blend of practical, technical and – increasingly – digital skills that manufacturing businesses require is vital, and Leeds Manufacturing Festival is key to raising awareness of the fantastic range of career opportunities available right here in Leeds and across the region.”

Leeds Manufacturing Festival’s launch event takes place on 1 February at Leeds City College’s Printworks campus.

Now in its fifth year, the festival is supported by sponsors Leeds City College, specialist recruiter for the manufacturing and engineering sectors E3 Recruitment and accountancy firm Saffery Champness. It is organised by the Leeds Manufacturing Alliance and supported by Leeds City Council, Leeds City Region LEP, Leeds Chamber and the Ahead Partnership.

Photo Credit: Tracey Dawson and Andrew Wright at Leeds textiles manufacturer AW Hainsworth which manufactures the scarlet cloth used to make ceremonial uniforms for the Royal Guards and the royal family

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