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    NAA Update: Apprenticeships, Business Excellence Networking Meeting, Niche Vehicle Network, CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle event, and more…

    Read Carol’s update about Apprenticeships, Business Excellence Networking Meeting, Niche Vehicle Network, CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle event, other funding bids, R&D Tax Credits seminar, and the new NAA website.

    What is the average age of your workforce?

    What is the average age of your key workers or workers on a key process?

    If either of the answers to the above question is that they are over 50, then start doing something now! Consider taking an apprentice, their training will meet your needs and the facts show that they stay longer than graduates. All the big companies will tell you that they struggle to fill vacancies for key skills in their business, so this is your warning signal, take action now, before it is too late! There are many people who can assist, but if you don’t know where to start, give us a call and we can point you in the right direction and help you through the process.

    While at the SMMT Meet-the-Buyer event in July the message came across loud and clear from the GM Purchasing Manager that companies need to have apprenticeship and employee development programmes to be considered as a supplier. Also at the event I heard about the Automotive Council initiative to encourage more Tier 1 suppliers into the UK, they have a target of £3bn; this will give more opportunities for those companies lower in the supply chain. NAA will be working with all the necessary groups to ensure that the NW is fully engaged in this initiative.

    The good news this month for the UK economy is that the rolling 12 month net car trade has turned positive, the first time since 1975. This has been caused by the continued demand for our cars globally which has offset the weak European demand and the slight increase in the UK for imported cars. It is the luxury and premium brands that are in high demand in the USA, China and the rest of the world, plus a growing demand in Russia for all cars.

    The TSB launched its Delivery Plan for the financial year 2012-2013 and aims to accelerate growth through stimulation and support of business-led innovation. £250m will fund around 60 competitions in a range of areas in the coming year. Of particular focus will be increased support for SMEs (which will receive an estimated 50% of funding), and the development of the seven catapults, including Transport Systems and High Value Manufacturing. Of note for our industry is that:

    • Transport will remain a strategic priority for TSB funded activities in 2012-2013 with around £22m of the £250m allocated to automotive related activities.
    • The focus of automotive industry-based activity will be on cost reduction and capability demonstration of new, low carbon vehicle technologies
    • High value manufacturing will continue to be strongly supported as an area of competence, through the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and several competitions and feasibility studies throughout the year.

    While this has only just been announced, some of the activities have been ongoing.  Similarly, we had a good turnout to the Niche Vehicle Network Collaborative R&D meeting, a lot of information was shared and the networking provided several unexpected opportunities for the companies that attended. I am hopeful that there will be 5-6 submissions to the call that include North West companies and wish everyone success. It also gave a chance for us to hear about some of the work that is being undertaken at the local Universities. I am hoping that with the extension of the Business Excellence Project we will have an opportunity to hold 2 or 3 similar events a year, but potentially focused on specific areas. 

    I hope that those of you who submitted projects to either RGF round 3, AMSCI stream 1 & 2 and TSB IDP7 or the Low Carbon Truck Demonstrator project are successful. I am pleased to announce that with the support of the NAA a consortium of predominantly NW SMEs has been successful in obtaining an offer for Collaborative R&D money for an innovative low carbon vehicle within the TSB IDP7 competition. There is another round of AMSCI stream 1 in September and NAA will also be looking to submit a bid into the Employer Led Ownership of skills later in the year for SMEs in the region; once we receive the prospectus will be looking for your feedback on our ideas.

    In addition to the TSB activities a number of FP7 research calls for 2013 were published on 10 July 2012. The calls linked into automotive are under 3 specific areas and if you would like to know more then please contact me and I will forward to you a summary of the detail.

    Our third Business Excellence Networking Meeting was held at Performance Springs, in Lytham at the end of June. There was a good turnout and as always the tour of the facility took far longer with everyone’s questions! Our thanks go to Steve Williams for hosting the session and I am sure that if any of you have any questions on the implementation of both TS 16949 and ISO 14001 Steve would be happy to answer them for you. I also think that everyone learnt at least one new item during our vital topics session on Agency Workers and Contracts of Employment and thank you to Guy Holden (no relation) of EEF for their contribution. Our next meeting will be in early October and will be held at MWS Distribution in Manchester; see elsewhere in the newsletter for more details. Martin is developing our extension request for the Business Excellence project and all Business Excellence Members will shortly be receiving a survey; please take 10 minutes to answer the survey as this is your opportunity to influence and shape the project through to mid-2015.

    Our new website should also be up and running by the time you receive this, unfortunately the changeover has taken longer than we anticipated and as a result there was no June newsletter, which is why this is a bumper issue. If you are a paid member of NAA you will be receiving an email with log-in details to the members’ area in the near future. You will see that Business Excellence has its own linked website and this will be shortly followed by our linked apprenticeship website.  Please let us know what you think of the site and anything else that you would like to see on it.

    There is only 7 weeks to go to CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle event to be held on 5 & 6 September. I need to finalise the delegation and stand details within the next 10 days; so if you would like to be part of the NAA stand then please contact me urgently.

    As we are entering the holiday season, may I wish you all a relaxing time, hopefully with good weather, so that you return refreshed and ready to face, what is looking to be a hectic autumn!

    Carol Holden

    Chief Executive

    European Regional Development Fund Northern Powerhouse
    Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham