A vital weapon in the ceramics sector's growing search for greater competitiveness was put under the spotlight when more than 100 delegates from industry, Government and training and educational specialists from across the country joined together to promote the virtues of work-based learning.
The University on the Shop Floor project, which is implemented through a partnership between the Ceramic Industry Forum and the Association for Ceramic Training and Development, has seen over 2,400 people registered since its launch.
Speaking at the Britannia Stadium event, Sue Evans, chief executive of the CIF, said: "The project was conceived as a way of helping the industry equip employees with the skills needed to embrace the widescale changes seen in the sector.
"After experiencing an extremely productive couple of years we are now rolling the programme out to even more ceramic companies and are gearing up for another surge of learners enrolling."
The aim of the University on the Shop Floor is to encourage companies to work together as a partnership, making learning and education available to all individuals, groups and businesses in the industry.
There have already been a number of notable successes, not least the achievements of successful learners and the value that companies have derived from empowering their employees to learn.
"Each company that has employees registered as learners at the University automatically becomes a member of the Ceramics Industry Learning Network (CILN), which allows companies to share information and experiences and encourages non-participating firms to learn through collaboration," said Ms Evans.
"The result is tangible business improvements that create value for everyone involved." The £3.2 million project is funded through Advantage West Midlands with all Government investment matched by the industry in the form of time, facilities and resources.
Keith Marsh, director of the ACTD, added: "The input from the industry is absolutely critical to the success of the project. We have asked them to contribute not only their facilities, but also the time of their employees, which in today's manufacturing environment is a scarce commodity indeed."