Some of Swindon and Wiltshire’s largest manufacturing businesses, employing thousands of people locally, have formed a special interest group to exchange ideas and shape the conditions for the sector locally.
From infrastructure and supply chain issues to skills and apprenticeships, the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative Manufacturing Cluster Group will engage with businesses and local decision makers on a range of issues to develop the future of manufacturing in the area.
The first meeting, which took place today (1 October) via Zoom, focused on the impact of coronavirus on the sector and how businesses are adapting the workplace to be COVID safe and ensure business continuity. The skills and apprenticeship topic was also discussed as was Brexit, with these three subjects being considered of greatest importance at the present time.
Ian Larrard, Director of Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, who organised the event, said: “Manufacturing in Swindon for example makes up approximately eight per cent of the economy, placing us in the top half of major towns and cities across the UK.
“Manufacturing businesses make such a valuable contribution to the area, therefore we wanted to provide a forum for leading business figures to come together and shape the future of the sector by drawing on the lobbying and policy expertise of Business West.
“With the Institute of Technology coming to Swindon next year and inward investment activity in the sector ramping up, we anticipate that the group will play a central role in the development of manufacturing for many years to come.”
Tim Sharpe, Operations Director at Melksham-based Knorr-Bremse, a global leader in braking systems for commercial road and rail vehicles, said: “Now more than ever it is important for manufacturing businesses to get around the table to talk about our shared issues and develop a collective plan of action in order to solve them.
“Manufacturing by its very nature is highly resource and human capital intensive, meaning that the operating conditions for businesses locally needs to be managed effectively in order for the sector to flourish.
“This group will provide the platform for manufacturers to engage with decision makers and the local community and enable us to continue to make a positive contribution to the local economy and growth.”
The next meeting will take place towards the end of November with a specific focus on Brexit.