Midland firms are being urged to exploit opportunities in the fast-expanding aerospace sector through a multi-million-pound training and development initiative.

Sharing in Growth UK (SiG) has been created as an independent organisation to deliver a programme of intensive supplier development training. 

The £110 million programme, which will focus on tackling barriers to growth, is part funded by a £50 million grant from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.

Rolls-Royce is also sponsoring the programme with support from other companies and organisations who can share their extensive industry experience.

Suppliers which sign up are being given the opportunity to benefit from more than £1 million per company of grant funded training.

The four-year programme provides leadership training for management and business improvement training for staff. It also includes tailored high-intensity development training covering areas such as lean production, modern manufacturing and cost management.

Andy Page, chief executive of Sharing In Growth said there were three themes relating to growth – technology, capital and finance and skills and capabilities.

“This is totally focused on training and development,” said Mr Page. “We see a number of barriers that come up time and time again.”

Mr Page added: “Firstly there’s skills around productivity and manufacturing processes and secondly sub-tier supply chain management.

“Aerospace has a very deep supply chain and first tier suppliers have to have the ability to manage second tier suppliers. A lot of development can be done there.

“Thirdly there is general financial skill – how much it costs to make these very complex parts. It is quite a complex thing when you imagine contracts often last five, ten or fifteen years.

"Keeping track of costs is a skill.”

The Midlands Aerospace Alliance estimates that the aerospace supply chain in the Midlands involves more than 400 specialist companies, which employ about 45,000 people.

With the average company being about 50 per cent dependent on aerospace, that equates to 1 in 50 jobs in the region’s economy.