Automotive and aerospace skills are being transferred to the food and drink industry with the help of a Birmingham-based organisation.
A new alliance aimed at transferring knowledge has been sealed between the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Trader’s Industry Forum and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing.
It means valuable lessons learned by UK automotive and aerospace companies – which have dramatically improved their productivity, quality and global competitiveness in recent years – can now benefit Britain’s food and drinks companies.
The SMMT Industry Forum says its programmes, which have been used in the automotive sector for more than12 years and the aerospace sector for nearly five years, are just as effective when transferred to other industries.
The Forum, based at Birmingham Business Park, joins 23 other organisations in training employees of companies in the dairy, fresh produce, red meat and cereals sectors.
Chief executive Graham Broome said the Forum would be applying processes common in automotive and aerospace to food and drinks companies and their suppliers to achieve measurable financial and non-financial benefits.
“The food and drinks industry is no different to any other in terms of the need to stay competitive in the face of weaker demand, changing legislation, skills shortages, increased automation and the continuing expectations of retailers and consumers,” said Mr Broome.
“We have proved that lessons learned in the automotive, and latterly the aerospace sectors, apply equally across all manufacturing sectors. We are delighted to have joined the list of training providers for the food and drink manufacturing National Skills Academy.
“We have a lot to offer in terms of our expertise in lean production. Our engineers are all multi-skilled and highly qualified.”
National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing director Justine Fosh said the academy was building up a wide-reaching network of training providers to give the industry the skills needed for productivity and competitiveness improvements.
“I am delighted to welcome the Industry Forum to our network as its reputation for lean training is second to none. It has much to offer and will no doubt play a key role in the ongoing development of the National Skills Academy.
“Our aim is to create a network of training providers to offer bespoke solutions that bring real business benefits to food and drink companies throughout the UK, and spreading the word on the advantages lean production brings is a key part of our strategy.”
Graham Broome added: “We were established specifically to improve the competitiveness of the UK automotive supply sector, but other sectors have many of the same issues as they battle to stay globally competitive.
“We are delighted that we have the opportunity to help the food and drink sector, which is every bit as vital to the UK as the automotive industry.”
The SMMT Industry Forum was set up in the mid-1990s to help automotive companies to achieve sustainable, world-leading competitiveness in the UK-based vehicle and components industry.
Much of the original funding came from the Government, with the then Department of Trade and Industry providing £6million over five years. The remainder of the funding came from contributions by SMMT members and fees from component suppliers taking part in the Forum’s programmes.
The Forum is now financially self-sufficient.
It says its programmes have helped well more than 1,000 companies to become more competitve.