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Leeds manufacturing festival 2022 outlines upcoming challenges for the sector

Staff shortages and supply chain disruption were singled out as the two biggest challenges faced by Leeds’ 1,800 manufacturing businesses at an in-person event to launch the 2022 Leeds Manufacturing Festival this week, attended by over 70 employers, training providers and young people.

The event, now in its fifth year, was held at Leeds City College’s flagship Printworks Campus and showcases apprenticeships and other career opportunities on offer for young people within the manufacturing and engineering sectors.

Over the coming months the 2022 festival will feature a series of events, including a manufacturing careers showcase hosted by Leeds City College, careers fairs in schools, online careers panels, virtual work experience sessions and visits to some of Leeds’ leading manufacturing firms.

Andrew Wright, non-executive chairman of Leeds textiles firm AW Hainsworth, LEP board member and deputy chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority Business Economy & Innovation Committee, said: “West Yorkshire is among the best places to work in the world, and as a region we have a reputation for manufacturing high-value products that require highly skilled people to make them.

“The shortage of skilled staff and the problems in the supply chain, however, are major obstacles to be overcome, which is why attracting new talent into the industry is so crucial.”

Andrew also noted that a significant increase in the number of young people taking up manufacturing and engineering apprenticeships was needed in order to address these challenges as well as to boost productivity, especially by connecting systems and further digitalisation, and to meet Leeds City Region’s 2038 carbon neutral target.

Tracey Dawson, managing director of Daletech Electronics, added: “The festival is a fantastic window on to the manufacturing sector in Leeds and we’re urging students to come and find out from people who are already working in it about the careers that are available and the skills and qualifications that will best equip them for the great jobs that are out there.”

Manufacturing employers will also be represented at the Leeds Apprenticeship Recruitment Fair at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on February 7 as part of National Apprenticeship Week.