Advanced Manufacturing Forum
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Newsletter 28/9/15


Siemens director says attitudes to manufacturing and apprenticeships must change

A senior figure at one of the region’s top employers has called for a change in attitudes towards manufacturing and apprenticeships.

In the same week that The Journal has launched its Let’s Work Together campaign to help address the region’s skills gap, Des Young from Siemens has spoken about the challenges facing manufacturing at the latest meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing Forum (AMF) in South Shields.

Mr Young, Siemens’ service director of asset services, told companies around the region that action must be taken to address shortages in the workforce – a major part of which would involve altering how the sector was viewed.

“Perceptions of manufacturing must change,” he said. “It’s often thought of as being dirty and smelly, but that’s not all it can be.

“There is so much more that is really exciting and inspiring, and that’s got to be promoted. We as businesses really need to start doing those activities for ourselves.”

The Let’s Work Together campaign is aiming to help tackle the region’s skills gap by highlighting companies that are doing work to bolster the region’s skills base both for their own benefit and their wider sectors.

Mr Young revealed that he had started his own working life as an apprentice, and had had to overcome a similar stigma to that which is attached to the career route today.



Des Young, Service Director of Asset Services at Siemens, addresses a meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing Forum (AMF)
Des Young, Service Director of Asset Services at Siemens, addresses a meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing Forum (AMF)


“Everybody was saying to me, ‘Why do you want to be an apprentice? Why do you want to go into engineering? Why don’t you go to university?’ There is still a lot of that mentality today.

“However, due to university costs being so high, and job prospects at the end, people are thinking twice about going down that ‘traditional’ route.

“Apprentices coming out of their time are often a lot more productive than a graduate in reality as well. It’s something that needs working on - to get away from the ‘traditional’ view of it.”

In order for manufacturing to thrive, he said, it was necessary to invest, innovate and educate.

Ian Fawdon, chairman of the AMF, said: “It is extremely important to change attitudes towards engineering and manufacturing, and people like Des Young, who started his career as an apprentice, are the perfect role models for budding engineers, or those thinking about engineering as a career.”

Since 1999, the North East has seen a fall in the proportion of its working age population with no qualifications and an increase in the proportion of those with qualifications at level 4.

Despite such improvements, the region is still lacking in some higher level skills required by employers, and by 2020 it is expected demand for jobs requiring level 4 and above qualifications will rise by 120,000.




South Tyneside Jobs Fair

On October 9th South Tyneside College will be hosting a jobs fair between 10am and 3pm, organised by South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.

Employers from the manufacturing, catering, healthcare, contact services, administration and other sectors are encouraged to contact Jenn Richards at South Tyneside Council if they wish to take part at;







The management team at the UK"s leading flavoured coffee company is full of beans after securing a second major investment to help bring the next stage of their development plans to the boil.


Beanies The Flavour Co manufactures a growing range of coffees, with 16 instant coffee and 30 whole bean flavours already available and more in development.


The County Durham-based firm worked with NEL Fund Managers last summer to bring in a £300,000 investment from the Finance For Business North East Growth Fund that NEL manages, since when it has consolidated its office, manufacturing and warehousing functions into new 9,000 sq ft  premises in Darlington and seen its products go onto Tesco"s shelves for the first time.


The Beanies management team has now gone back to NEL for a further £100,000, which will support a range of improvements being made across various elements of the business.


The company"s manufacturing line is being upgraded, with two new production apprentices being taken on as part of the development, while two graduate recruits have also recently joined the firm.


The Beanies website and mail order functions are being improved, and  further products are being developed and brought on stream, including a new range of Christmas gifts that will be available for the forthcoming festive season.


Discussions are also continuing with a number of well-known major multiple retailers about bringing Beanies" products, which are already available in Sainsbury"s as well as in Tesco, into their respective stores.


Founded by director Mark Porteous in 2009, Beanies sells products through its website as well as through independent High Street retailers and speciality food outlets.


As well as growing domestic sales, the firm"s products are increasingly in demand in a range of overseas markets, including South Africa, the Middle East and mainland Europe, and trading partners are being sought in a number of other locations.


Beanies managing director John Evans says: “Bringing our whole operation under one roof was a big step for us, and we had to make the move seamlessly, so that our production and service levels didn"t drop in any way, but having now achieved that, we"re in a great place to press forward with further developments.


“Getting into Tesco was a major landmark for us, and with the rapid evolution in the retail sector towards a more convenience store-based focus, there are huge opportunities for us to get our products into even more high profile High Street locations.


"We"re moving into the peak season for online sales, when we can be processing up to 200 orders a day, and we"re expecting our first Christmas range to add to this demand, so enhancing our website and the capacity we have to get orders out to customers is a crucial task.


“Having the working capital available to make all these improvements is a absolute necessity, and NEL"s involvement has become a key part of our business plan.  The team understands what we"re looking to do and has been extremely supportive in helping us work towards our goals."


Chris Parker, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Beanies is already a real success story that has the potential to do a great deal more, and their progressive use of investment capital sets an excellent example for other North East firms that plan to go through the gears of growth."


Aimed at regional businesses which are at a development and growth stage, the Growth Fund forms part of the wider Finance for Business North East Fund.


Managed by North East Finance, it will see £142m of investment capital injected into the region by the European Investment Bank and the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13.


NEL is looking to make around 130 investments from the Growth Fund, and is actively looking to speak to ambitious north east companies with robust business plans.


For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit or contact the investment team on 0845 111 1850.


The ERDF 2007-13 programme is bringing over £300m into North East England to support innovation, enterprise and business support.  It will help create and safeguard 28,000 new jobs, start 3,000 new businesses and increase the region’s productivity by £1.1bn per annum.

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