The head Britain’s first ‘Faculty on the Factory Floor’ will urge more manufacturers to create industry-ready graduates when he delivers his keynote address at Subcon.
Dr Carl Perrin will tell delegates about the first three years of the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) and how it has developed a new degree course that gives students the opportunity to apply theory on shop-floor projects.
The collaboration between Coventry University and Unipart Manufacturing currently has 90 young people currently completing their BEng and MEng, with the first cohort set to graduate shortly. When they do they are expected to be one year ahead of their peers after receiving hundreds of hours of practical experience, some of which has been spent overseas on industrial placements.
He said: “The skills gap is widely acknowledged as one of the biggest problems facing industry and a lot is now being done around Apprenticeships and getting more young people involved in manufacturing.
“However, the fact is a lot of manufacturers are still bemoaning the fact that they are not getting graduates that are industry-ready and this is something we’ve tried to fill with AME.
“Our graduates receive academic knowledge, practical experience, insight into workplace culture and management experience. They will have overseen improvement projects on live Unipart production cells and some of these have been implemented to boost performance.
“When they leave AME they will have an immediate positive impact on the business they join without the need for that ‘bedding in process’. It’s a blueprint that we are proving works and more manufacturers need to explore similar learning opportunities if they are going to get the staff they need.”
The Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering is located on the Unipart Manufacturing site in Coventry and is housed in a 1700m2 purpose-built hub.
AME is home also to specialists who are developing new powertrain and energy transfer solutions for automotive, aerospace and renewables. This has included over £7m of funded projects and already led to Unipart securing a new fuel rail project for the Ford Fox engine and the start of production on a lightweight exhaust system for Aston Martin.
“The other part of my talk will be looking at how the UK can commercialise more R&D. We’re fantastic at coming up with initial ideas, but a lot of times fail to keep the technology and economic benefit here,” said Perrin.