Funding to set up a Ceramic Skills Academy in Stoke-on-Trent, to fill skills gaps in the pottery ind
News Posted: 18 July 2012
Funding to set up a Ceramic Skills Academy in Stoke-on-Trent, to fill skills gaps in the pottery industry, is moving closer.
Outline funding of around £20,000 has been granted to allow a comprehensive bid for £1.5million to be submitted to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).
North Staffs Chamber of Commerce and the British Ceramic Confederation, on behalf of the industry, now have three months to state the case for the prestigious academy.
It comes as our city's world famous ceramics industry enjoys a resurgence based on the quality of ware produced here and the traditional skills of the workforce.
But as many companies try to grow, they are experiencing a shortage of people who either have the skills they need, or even want to work in a potbank.
Amazingly the bid for the academy was being put together as the idea was discussed during a VIP visit by the Lord Mayor of London. Alderman David Wootton came to
Stoke-on-Trent, where his father lives, and visited several pottery factories as part of a commitment to help promote the industry.
He chaired a luncheon attended by industrialists, senior councillors, regeneration experts, the media and educationalists to discuss what could be done to build on growth in the ceramics industry as part of the city's regeneration.
The skills gap was the topic of lengthy discussion, when it was suggested that pottery companies should work together to support a programme to train people in the skills the industry needs. Meetings had been taking place attended by representatives of North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, British Ceramic Federation, Staffordshire University and representatives of the industry since Spring this year.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry drew up the Ceramic Skills Academy bid. If given the green light, government funding of £1million will be boosted with £500,000 from partners and the ceramic industry. It will be announced later in the summer.
The Chamber's Head of Development and Business Services Ian McLaughlan said: "This could be the single biggest thing to happen to the ceramics industry in many years.
"The partners want to facilitate the ongoing growth of the ceramics industry - which is vitally important to Stoke-on-Trent - by creating an aspiration to work in the industry and providing avenues to acquire the skills people need to work in these companies."
Talks are now underway between the partners to produce a structure for the learning opportunities and to involve more ceramics companies in offering different parts of the training.
The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of London, Alderman David Wootton said: "I am delighted to hear that plans are afoot to create a Ceramic Skills Academy in Stoke-on-Trent. When I visited the Potteries and met leaders of the ceramics sector in May this year, it was apparent that a skills shortage was one of the biggest threats facing the industry.
"We discussed an innovative, industry-led, ‘modular approach', which would inspire a new generation of ceramicists and enable students to gain ‘hands on' experience and qualifications.
"I was struck by the industry's energy and commitment to develop and realise these plans, and am encouraged to see how far they have progressed. A Ceramic Skills Academy is an excellent, effective, essential step towards regenerating and revitalising this important industry.
"I commend the vision and leadership of the British Ceramic Federation, North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Staffordshire University, Stoke on Trent College, Stoke-on-Trent City Council - and the region's pottery and ceramic companies."
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