STEM Foundation

South West gets ready for Composites Revolution

Globally, the composites industry is expected to grow by about 50% in the next five years. The value of the future UK composites market is estimated to be £20bn by 2013, with the greater levels of growth being in aerospace, automotive and renewable energy, as well as, related advanced manufacturing sectors. However, to ensure this growth is realised, greater skills development in composites needs to take place.

City of Bristol College in partnership with Airbus hosted an executive briefing on November 12 at Airbus operations site in Filton, where 40 key decision makers from Further Education across the UK, together with industrialists from leading aeronautical industries in the South West heard about the critical skills shortages in composites. Industrialists spoke of the ‘need for colleges and training providers to ensure that they are training the right people in the right skills in composites technology’.

City of Bristol College forms part of the South West Composite Gateway which has been doing some pioneering work across the region to galvanise skills provision and work closely with both industry and FE providers. The project is also one of only five FE Innovation Pathfinder projects to receive government funding to further encourage Further Education in these types of technical leading edge activity.

The event was organised by the New Engineering Foundation (NEF), an educational charity and think-tank who have been working closely in partnership with the City of Bristol College and the South West Composites Gateway. Professor Sa’ad Medhat, NEF CEO spoke about the opportunities for the Further Education Sector to build its capability to support the education and training of the much-needed modern class of technician, in line with the recently announced Skills Strategy Whitepaper.  The event illustrated clearly the considerable enthusiasm and commitment by industry and colleges to embrace this newly emerged technology and to drive staff and curriculum development to build the skills and talent base in composites within the Southwest of England.

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