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Audio: Hethel conference says collaboration is key to boosting Norfolk’s engineering excellence

PUBLISHED: 18:32 10 June 2014 | UPDATED: 09:42 11 June 2014

Simon Coward, director of the Hethel Engineering Centre..

Simon Coward, director of the Hethel Engineering Centre..

©Archant Photographic 2010

Norfolk’s engineers need to collaborate across a range of sectors if the region is to continue to grow its reputation as a manufacturing centre of excellence.

That was the message to business leaders who gathered for a manufacturing and skills conference held at the Hethel Innovation Centre to find new strategies for promoting the region’s economic credentials on the global stage.

Business leaders from across region descended on the event near Wymondham to engage in debates on the future of advanced manufacturing and how best to tackle the engineering skills gap.

• Click here for an in-depth audio interview with Simon Coward

Simon Coward, director of the centre, said the Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Exhibition (EAME) had encourage engineers to strike up partnerships to help drive innovation.

“Manufacturers need to look at what is going on in other sectors, so we are sharing solutions that are currently being used in one sector that could be transferred to another,” he said. “We need to look at cross-sector innovation and see how we can think outside the box and work collaboratively so we can strengthen our supply chains. It’s about working together in order to be globally competitive.

“It is difficult to do it on your own, but when you find people you can work with that can bring different skills, technologies and experiences that is the way that we can be competitive.”

But Mr Coward said the region had to get better at sharing techniques for bringing young people and industry together if it is to address the growing skills gap.

“The skills gap is a huge challenge and its across many different sectors within engineering and manufacturing,” he said.

“But it covers the whole age range, so we need to work with primary schools, high schools, colleges, universities and those in work as well, to inspire, raise aspirations and identify the capability to transfer skills such that we can meet that significant skills gap, which exists now and is only going to grow unless we attempt to find solutions.

“The event has shared what is going on that is good. There are great things going on in primary schools and high schools, with the University Technical College Norfolk coming online in September and the University of East Anglia doing its Energy and Engineering Degree – and growing that, with the work of Opito, STEMnet and all these organisations which are supporting industry – as well as the initiatives of industry themselves by partaking in this conference and running events with local primary schools and high schools and taking on apprentices. There is lots going on and the first this is to recognise that, to make sure know what’s going on, so we can share that best practise can be shared amongst others.

“The conference must act as a call to arms to say that we have got to come together and lobby together – that way we will succeed in solving the problems that our industry faces.”

The second leg of the event – held tomorrow (Wednesday June 11) at the centre– will feature specialist workshops exploring how businesses can best communicate with their local university, including ways in which students can help small and medium sized firms grow.

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  • I think you two need to check your facts before trolling such nonsense. The last time I looked, it was run by the county council and as far as I can see Mr Fuller has nothing to do with the running of it. I have worked with a few of the businesses that are or have been based there and they are all excellent examples of the type of business that we need more of in Norfolk.

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    Tom Jeffries

    Thursday, June 12, 2014

  • I am sorry but I have to agree with Norfolk John. Not only is this a most ugly building, located in totally the wrong place but it is costing Tax Payers and Norfolk Council Tax Payers tens of £1,000’s each year to keep it going. Why – to try and encourage a few new business starts up, that will most likely fail in a few months’ time when the bills start coming in and to satisfy John Fullers thirst for publicity.

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    Voice of Reason

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Well, just to provide a little balance to the views of one of Norfolk's Flat Earth Society members, I for one think the Hethel Centre is an excellent facility that seems to be having a really positive impact. Let's hope more money - including from we tax-payers - is forthcoming to help it keep growing.

    Report this comment

    Tom Jeffries

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • ... and still they carry on attempting to justify the existance of this blot on the landscape and the millions of pounds of tax payers money that has been wasted building it.

    Report this comment

    Norfolk John

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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