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Our Chairman

Professor Lord Kumar
Bhattacharyya KT CBE FREng FRS
Regius Professor of Manufacturing

Starting his career as a graduate apprentice at Lucas Industries, Lord Bhattacharyya
became Britain's first ever Professor of Manufacturing. Having seen first-hand how slowly
academic advances were translated into real business and social change, he founded WMG
in 1980 to help business innovate and help university researchers change our lives. Academic
excellence with industrial relevance has always been at the heart of WMG, it is what makes them
unique. Today, WMG is one of the world’s top applied research centres, with a reputation for academic excellence and business results spanning the globe.

Latest News
Chairman of Tata Sons visits WMG

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya welcomed Mr Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Sons to WMG, at the University of Warwick, on Saturday 16th September.

Mr Chandrasekaran was very interested to see for himself some of the projects that WMG and Tata companies are collaborating on, and to understand the breadth and depth of WMG’s research, education and technology transfer activities.

To bring these to life, he was given a tour of WMG’s Energy Innovation Centre, which is going through significant expansion, and will see WMG to continue to provide a unique facility for industry and academia to develop innovative energy storage technology. Mr Chandrasekaran also visited the Advanced Steels Research Centre and the International Manufacturing Centre where the focus was on light weighting, metrology and intelligent vehicles. As well as hearing from the Institute of Digital Healthcare.

Mr Chandrasekaran was keen to see the significant investment in automotive research, at WMG, and along with Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, had a tour of the National Automotive Innovation Centre and was delighted to see the progress in its construction. The Centre, which is a long-term commitment between Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, WMG and the University of Warwick, is a unique resource and the first of its kind in Europe, providing an environment to foster collaboration, cohesion and sharing knowledge, combining automotive expertise nationally and internationally.

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Adult Skills and Lifelong Learning - Debate

Both the Budget last week and today’s Industrial Strategy White Paper underline the importance of skills and lifelong learning to British economic success. However, the White Paper’s stress on the importance of adult skills and lifelong learning is not new. After all, we are nearing the centenary of the Ministry of Reconstruction’s 1919 report on adult education, which led to local authorities being given responsibility for adult education. Indeed, as Winston Churchill said in 1954:

“There is perhaps no branch of our vast educational system which should more attract within its particular sphere the aid and encouragement of the State than adult education”.

More recently, we have had the Moser report, which led to Skills for Life, and the Leitch report, which led to Train to Gain.

To deliver these strategies, we have had a dazzling array of bodies: the Manpower Services Commission, the training and enterprise councils, the Learning and Skills Council, the Skills Funding Agency, and the Learning and Skills Network. Yet despite the reports, the commissions, the councils, the agencies and the networks, the core issues remain. Work by the LSE’s Centre for Vocational Education Research shows that the percentage of adult employees in learning or training has been falling since the millennium. Of those in learning or training, there is a rise in the numbers doing short courses and a fall in the share working towards a qualification.

The truth is that far too few adults at work are getting a good education or earning a widely recognised qualification that will strengthen their long-term career prospects. At the same time, technological change is transforming the world of work. No one wants their parents’ autonomous car or their internet-enabled medical devices to be insecure or wrongly updated because of poor skills. In autonomous vehicles alone—we design a lot at WMG—the scale of reskilling needed is enormous, whether in car design, highway maintenance, manufacturing, dealers, commercial transport or regulators. Learning new skills and reskilling workers in sectors that are being transformed by new technologies is increasingly essential.

To be fair, recent Governments, whether Labour, coalition or Conservative, have followed Churchill’s advice and recognised that adult skills are a priority. The White Paper on industrial strategy shows the beginnings of a non-partisan approach to the issue, although it might not look that way from the Front Bench. You can always tell when there is a cross-party consensus: the Opposition accuse the Government of recycling old ideas. The industrial strategy deserves a broad, if restrained, welcome for its approach to adult skills. One of the most pleasing signs of this in the White Paper is the recognition that the TUC and the CBI both need to be involved in the national retraining partnership. Similarly, I am happy that Unionlearn was extended. It is an excellent programme.

At WMG we offer levels 1 to 3 only to students up to 18 at our Academy for Young Engineers, which we run under the auspices of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust. The majority of these students either go to university or become apprentices. At WMG itself, we offer courses at levels 4, 5, 6 and above. By the end of the decade we will have more than 1,000 apprentices at any particular time. Skills programmes such as the ones we run today work well for larger employers which can afford to think for the long term—but what about the backbone of the economy, the small and medium-sized firms?

All our 1,000 apprentices are paid for, fully, by the companies. They also pay the university to get their degrees. Only one in 10 SMEs offers apprenticeships. The proportion offering higher and advanced apprenticeships is even lower. Business has to put its hand in its pocket to change this. Big business especially has to do more to help its suppliers and its sector. When I was an apprentice, more apprentices were trained by the company so that some of them could go to the suppliers and the smaller sectors. There is no point in businesses crying about the lack of proper technical education if they are not prepared to invest in their sector’s success.

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Recent Visits
Secretary of State views work to complete £150 million Centre that will help deliver UK Industrial Strategy

The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, visited WMG, at the University of Warwick, on Friday 20th January 2017, taking up an invitation to see for himself the work underway to complete the new £150 million National Automotive Innovation Centre on the University Campus. He also saw the work expanding WMG’s Energy Innovation Centre which provides a one-stop-shop for the development of new battery chemistries to create advanced batteries for the automotive sector.

The National Automotive Innovation Centre is a unique automotive research centre, and the largest facility of its kind in Europe. It will provide high technology automotive manufacturing research that will be of significant benefit in the delivery of the key manufacturing component of the UK’s Industrial Strategy.