One of the West Midlands fastest growing manufacturers has capped a major personal development milestone this month with investment in training now totalling over £5m since 2003.

PP Control & Automation (PP C&A), which works with 20 of the world’s leading machinery builders, has expanded its Bright Sparks University concept that champions diverse learning pathways, technical excellence, leadership and continuous improvement.

It’s the latest in a long line of initiatives that the company employs to maximise the skills of its growing 230-strong workforce and has helped it increase sales to a record-breaking £30m by the end of this year.

Malcolm Condon, HR People Partner at PP C&A, believes a bigger challenge faces his company and the rest of the sector in trying to encourage more young people – from a grassroots level up – to choose a career in manufacturing.

“Sowing the seeds when children are learning about different jobs must be one of the priorities, as we look to shift outdated perceptions of industry towards the modern-day sector, we all know and love.

“This is something we are very passionate about at PP Control & Automation and already work with several schools to host factory visits, provide mentoring opportunities, work experience and STEM projects.”

He continued: “The benefits are there for both sides and we are now seeing students we have worked with choose to come here because of our engagement at an earlier stage of their life.”

PP Control & Automation is a member of the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), a group of seven sub-contract manufacturers and a specialist engineering design agency.

The collective launched its MANifesto earlier this year as a direct response to a lack of a coherent Government industrial strategy and one of the four key pillars is ‘people’ and how the sector looks to tackle the widespread skills and labour shortages it is facing.

The eight companies all invest in apprentices and graduates, not to mention coming together to host the UK’s largest Design & Make Challenge that gives 80 Year 10 and Year 11 students the opportunity to test their STEM skills against each other.

Malcolm concluded: “We now want other manufacturers to tackle the skills crisis head on by doing more to help develop the next generation of engineers and are offering to share our proven ‘Design & Make blueprint’ we have created to support ‘engagement’.

“The ‘hard yards’ have already been done in overcoming some of the issues that exist when dealing with academic institutions and we believe we can pave the way to build the volume of relationships industry needs to reverse the direction the skills shortage is heading.”

PP Control & Automation