Semta's Chief Executive Ann Watson shares her views on the latest news, policy, issues and events of interest to the engineering and advanced manufacturing sector. 


Tuesday, 12 April 2016 00:00

Balancing our engineering skills ecosystem

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Jo-Lopes-002Guest blog by Semta board member and Chair of the Automotive Industrial Partnership, Jo Lopes, Jaguar Land Rover

My career with Jaguar Land Rover to date has been both long and rewarding. By contrast, my time on the Semta Board has been comparatively short, but nonetheless incredibly interesting. It's an exciting time to be part of the team helping to steer Semta's future direction. I firmly believe it is the collaboration within our multi-disciplinary team that makes it effective, just as it is the partnership approach that Semta takes with industry, education and government that enables it to successfully support the sector.

Having joined Jaguar Land Rover as a graduate in 1989, I've witnessed many changes in the automotive industry, not least in the range and level of skills the sector demands. The transition from a largely mechanical skillset to a focus on software, electronics and mechatronics has occurred at unprecedented pace.


In my current position as Head of Technical Excellence at Jaguar Land Rover, I'm responsible for ensuring that the organisation has the skills and competencies it needs now, as well as identifying future capability requirements. This could be anything from understanding how big data can be exploited to identifying the skills needed to support electrification and autonomy.

Guiding and shaping training requirements to accelerate the development of our apprentices and graduates is my primary focus. But it's not just about the skills of our current employees, it's about ensuring the future talent pool has the specialisms we, and the wider automotive sector, need – and in sufficient numbers. This is why I'm committed to working closely with education establishments – be it developing modules for technology masters programmes with university partners or working alongside UTCs and schools to get more young people excited about the potential of a career in advanced manufacturing.

Jaguar Land Rover exists as part a carefully balanced ecosystem, which relies on the strength and prosperity of the whole supply chain. This is why initiatives like the Automotive Industrial Partnership are so vital in identifying and supporting the skills needs of the sector, from the largest manufacturers to the smallest specialist suppliers. The collaboration across industry, government and key partners, including Semta and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, is testament to the collective will to see the sector succeed.

Semta's role in the Automotive Industrial Partnership is just one of the ways that the organisation is fulfilling its core capabilities, as it completes its evolution from government-funded Sector Skills Council to self-sustaining organisation. Semta has a critical part to play in enabling a joined up approach to skills across the AME sector and ensuring the voice of industry is heard.

With the three million Apprenticeship starts target on the horizon, the focus on quality must be paramount. Ensuring engineering Apprenticeships are of the highest quality and genuinely meet the needs of employers and young people is where Semta can and must excel. Its expertise in standards setting and quality assurance set Semta far apart from the old SSCs. It needs to robustly defend its capabilities with government and industry alike and I, along with the Semta Board, will do everything we can to support this.

Read 2516 times Last modified on Wednesday, 25 May 2016 15:29