Posted by

Louise Bennett OBE, Chief Executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce

12 Dec 2012

At a meeting of local MPs and manufacturing firms in a range of sectors, hosted by Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White, there was discussion aiming to highlight the expertise and success of manufacturing locally. The topics discussed included funding, European policy, export and apprentices. However, one idea from a member certainly struck a chord with the Business Secretary who has promised to investigate its implications. Angelo Luciano, of Expert Tooling and Automation, felt that the extended working age could give companies a real chance to train young staff and apprentices far more effectively.

Many firms have staff staying on until they are 70 - they know the industry, their particular firm and they want to see the industry develop. They have amazing knowledge and experience and would be perfectly placed to pass on that to the younger staff.

It interested the Business Secretary and he has promised to go away and look at how it could work on a practical basis. It was a welcoming audience: firstly with the local MPs and then with Dr Cable. Four companies – all from different manufacturing areas – outlined their areas of operation, their recent successes and the support they need from Government to keep succeeding.

The majority of our local Coventry and Warwickshire MPs were there, which was fantastic, and I am sure they found it as useful and as members did. We meet with MPs in Westminster every quarter, organised by Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi, to keep them informed of what is happening in business on our patch and lobby for things we feel could help.

This sector approach certainly worked and we will be looking to replicate it across other areas of commerce. NP Aerospace, which makes composites for a wide range of industries, outlined its work, while MIRA talked through its expansion and the creation of the transport technology park.

Pailton Engineering, which manufacturers steering systems, and GreenMech, a wood chipper and green shredder firm, discussed how they have gone through recent growth. Chris White MP, who chairs the Associate Parliamentary Manufacturing Group, said:

“This was a really valuable meeting for MPs and for the Chamber members. We had a broad spectrum of companies and it was good to see that the heritage and innovation of manufacturing and engineering are doing well for the Coventry and Warwickshire economy.

We want to be right across the very practical issues which affect businesses and to help them showcase the clear expertise which lies in this area. I think all the other MPs as well as the minister were very impressed with what they heard... There were issues around apprentices, funding, growth and infrastructure and we will take those away and work on them to help the businesses.”

The visit was supported by Virgin Trains, NP Aerospace and MIRA.