Panellist Jess Sugden, an apprentice at Leeds fibreglass composite components firm MPM

Manufacturing employers and young people from across Leeds will come together at a live event this week to address the chronic skills shortage facing the manufacturing sector.

Leeds Manufacturing Festival Live!, which takes place from 8.30-9.30am at specialist engineering and manufacturing college UTC Leeds on Friday 4 October, will see a ten-strong panel of bosses and apprentices from some of the 1,800 manufacturers in the city take questions from students on the reality of careers in the industry, with the aim of highlighting the range of job opportunities on offer.

Panellist Jess Sugden, an apprentice at Leeds fibreglass composite components firm MPM, said:

“Manufacturing is a really exhilarating sector to work in and a lot of people don’t realise that there are loads of opportunities right here in Leeds. It’s not just the hands-on practical roles that are involved either: whatever area of work you are interested in there is likely to be a role to suit you, with apprenticeships and training available too.

“I am now doing a level 4 apprenticeship in procurement at MPM after completing an administration apprenticeship, both of which have been really interesting. I’ve gained so much confidence during my apprenticeships and it has been great to be part of a team creating products that we are all proud of. I don’t think you necessarily get that same job satisfaction in other types of organisation.”

Leeds Manufacturing Festival organiser Graham Cooper, a director at high-tech printing products manufacturer Agfa Graphics, added:

“The festival is all about showcasing the exciting and fulfilling careers that are on offer in Leeds’ vibrant manufacturing sector, which is the third largest in the UK.

“We are really keen for young people to look seriously at manufacturing as a career path. There is a truly diverse range of roles available, from marketing, to HR, to engineering - and everything in between, and as an industry we have an urgent need for young people to come and join us.

“There’s a chronic shortfall in students considering careers in manufacturing and it’s essential for manufacturers in Leeds, and in the country as a whole, that the industry is seen to be the modern and viable career option that it is.”

Leeds Manufacturing festival Live! will be broadcast live on Twitter with school and college students across the city invited to take part online. The panel will consist of employers and apprentices from Leeds manufacturers including specialist medical lighting firm Brandon Medical, jukebox manufacturer Sound Leisure and ESG, which produces sirens and lights for emergency vehicles, as well as MPM and Agfa Graphics.

Now in its second year, the festival is sponsored by RSM, Womble Bond Dickinson, The Works Recruitment and Leeds City College. It is organised by Leeds Manufacturing Alliance, with the support of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, Leeds City Council and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The initiative is complemented by Bradford Manufacturing Weeks, which take place in October.

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