MANUFACTURING: MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES ASSOCIATION
Breaking the mould
Manufacturing technologies breed innovation, and such technology is the core of engineeringbased manufacturing. In short, manufacturing technologies are the means to manufacture ? they are the machines necessary to form and cut metal and they produce everything from metal moulds for plastic products through to components for Formula One cars.
MACH is a showcase of innovation
The UK manufacturing technologies sector employs almost 8,000 people and contributes several hundred million to the UK economy every year. It?s a global industry and there is strong competition from all corners of the world ? the UK competes incredibly well in the most part due to its reputation as a creator of high-precision innovative technology. The UK machine tool market reported stronger-than-expected growth of 7.2% during 2007 and currently sits in 13th place in the world league table for production of machine tools and is the ninth biggest exporter.
The UK industry is supported by the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA). The trade association uniquely represents engineering-based manufacturing and is focused on supporting the advanced engineering sector. Our 250 members receive assistance through a number of channels to support their innovation.
Starting at grassroots level, the key to innovation in the UK sits in our education system, the next generation of talented young engineers will come through our schools, colleges and universities. The MTA welcomes government plans to raise the bar for education in the workplace via the skills pledge and we also applaud the new commitment to apprenticeships and the introduction of engineering diplomas. While the government has also announced its ambition to achieve Level 2 NVQ for about five million people, we would like to see a bit more; in engineering what we need is a minimum of Level 3 NVQ before entering the industry. We need improved skills at the top end.
The MTA has launched its own initiatives to assist the education of our future engineers and to foster innovation early on. Our longest-running project is the TDi Challenge, run in partnership with the Technology Enhancement Programme (TEP). The TDi Challenge rewards the design innovation of Britain?s secondary school students, who submit their coursework into the competition to find the most innovative projects. The Challenge not only rewards innovation, it can also help promote our industry as an attractive career prospect ? which in the long run will benefit our members.
The MTA?s educational work also supports apprenticeships. Our recently set up Growing Talent Scheme provides funding for member companies with an annual turnover of less than £5m to take on new apprentices. The scheme provides funding in the form of grants and loans and this year the Association expects to release £100,000 in funds to support apprenticeships at member companies. We?re also looking at projects targeting universities and colleges, and our members currently benefit from funding towards industry-related courses. All our educational efforts will hopefully nurture a steady stream of talent into the industry.
Aside from the educational work of the MTA, our other major contribution to assisting innovation is through trade activities. Our most obvious contribution is the MACH exhibition. MACH is the UK?s premier manufacturing technologies event. Held every two years at the NEC in Birmingham, the event attracts in excess of 500 exhibitors and at the last exhibition earlier this year, over 27,000 visitors.
MACH is the place to see what?s new in manufacturing technologies
MACH is a showcase of innovation and prides itself as being the place to see what?s new in manufacturing technologies. The show generates millions of pounds of sales for exhibiting companies ? well over £100m at the 2008 show. Alongside a UK audience, the show attracts overseas buyers keen to acquire the high-precision products that UK and European companies are becoming renowned for. To attract overseas visits, the MTA works with UKTI, which has proved a great help assisting with inward missions of international delegates who can sometimes as a whole spend in excess of £100m in new technologies at the show.
The international spend at MACH is an indicator of the importance of exports to many member companies. In machine tools alone, the UK exported over £470m worth of technology in 2007. The MTA has recognised the importance of exports and provides assistance to members looking to enter new markets.
Again working closely with UKTI, the MTA runs a series of inward and outward missions with the sole intention of increasing the international trade prospects for our members. The missions provide a valuable opportunity for members to network with potential buyers from global markets. The MTA is constantly working to ensure that our industry is properly represented and that our members are presented with opportunities to widen their trade activities and the skills of their employees.
As a whole, these all contribute to innovation, providing support for the generation of new cuttingedge ideas that the UK is renowned for.
For more information, visit: Website: www.mta.org.uk