Manufacturing Talent Rules summit vows to tackle skills shortage in manufacturing
Manufacturing in Northern Ireland is offering increasingly varied careers though a skills shortage in the sector must be addressed, it's been claimed.
The Manufacturing Talent Rules summit in Belfast featured 150 people from the province's most successful firms including Denroy Plastics, Ryobi, Moyola Precision Engineering and Bombarider.
It was led by the faculty for engineering and physical sciences at Queen's University, Belfast and supported by First Trust and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
The event heard manufacturers would now embark on an action plan developed by Queen's and the Centre for Competitiveness to tackle the talent shortage.
Claire McAlinden, operations director for the engineering and physical sciences faculty - who spent 13 years at manufacturing and consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble - said: "We see our goal as helping our manufacturing sector become a world leader by supplying top-class graduate talent, providing cutting-edge research and innovation and working with the sector to ensure it is one of the most highly regarded in the world.
"That future revolves around talent and we will continue to work in close partnership with industry to maintain the flow of graduates equipped with the right type of skills to meet demand.
"We will also continue to support the sector by helping upskill those in work to make sure the sector's investment in talent is as effective as possible."
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Brian Gillan, head of corporate and business banking at First Trust, said: "Manufacturing companies play a vital role within the Northern Ireland economy and we are investing in the sector over the longer term. We have a £500m AIB (UK) manufacturing lending fund available."
Anne Dongahy, chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, added the area was fighting back after the loss of former big employers Michelin and JTI Gallaher.
"Our focus is creating an advanced manufacturing ecosystem for Mid and East Antrim and Northern Ireland and I am committed to doing everything I can to bring Northern Ireland to new industry standards when it comes to our manufacturing sector," she said.