Philip Law looks ahead to Chinaplas and the opportunities for UK exhibitors
This month, BPF Director-General, Philip Law, looks to the East ahead of Chinaplas in Shanghai, as well as some interesting results from its skills survey and progress from its medical PVC collection scheme.
BPF is now looking forward to its second major international trade fair in 2016. This time we will be carrying the UK plastics industry message to the 'Chinaplas' show in Shanghai due to be held between 25-28 April 2016. This is now the world's largest annual plastics exhibition and this year marks the 30th edition. Estimates say that it will cover some 230,000 square metres and will provide a magnet for 125,000 visitors and 3000 exhibiting companies.
The BPF's Pavilion at the event is supported by UKTI and, with the BPF itself, will feature twelve exhibitors. They include MSA Engineering Systems; The Aerogen Company; Nextool; Meech; Atlas Converting; J & A Young (Leicester) Ltd; Applied Market Information; Boston Matthews; Ceramicx; Zotefoams; and PREA, many of them veteran exporters to China with considerable depth in the local market.
We have a very clear conception of what we are really good at in the UK plastics sector and what makes us stand out from the international competition - specialist materials and products, niche processing machinery, ancillary equipment, expertise in energy efficiency, technical and rotational moulding, pipe extrusion, packaging solutions, innovative recycling technology and more besides. With this in mind, BPF will be promoting over 500 members firms via 1,000 printed copies of our 'British Guide to Chinaplas', which we have translated into Simplified Chinese.
We have exhibited at Chinaplas for practically every show for the last 20 years and the BPF brand is well established there. We have Memoranda of Understanding with both the China Plastics Processing Association as well as the Shanghai Plastics Processors Association. Justyna Elliott at the BPF is co-ordinating our presence and for any information on how to hook up with the UK contingent in Shanghai please contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org
But we all know we can’t develop business at home let alone overseas without skilled staff. This is a vexed issue, which the BPF has taken on board. We have just published our first ever Skills and Education Survey asking companies to analyse their upcoming skills requirements. The aim of the Survey was to help the BPF to better understand the skills gap, in turn allowing us to engage with key stakeholders to help shape the skills landscape for the industry.
A key finding was that, from over 53.6 percent of companies who participated, at least one board member was a former apprentice. Further to this, the report found that some 78 percent of respondents recognised a gap between current training offered and what they really want; 83 percent of respondents saw short courses as a valuable means of narrowing the skills gap; half of respondents want 'Hands on staff who are operational'; 84 percent believe they understand what is involved in taking on apprentices; the majority felt that clear guidance on what training courses are available is crucial but lacking. Among the serious issues surrounding the attraction of skilled staff are salary levels, a lack of availability of advanced courses and general awareness of the industry. We will use this information in our plans going forward.
Lastly this month, there has been some signifincant progress achieved by our PVC take-back scheme, which BPF is leading with assistance from Axion Consulting. The Recomed scheme is a global first focusing on improving the environmental performance of PVC healthcare products. By collecting items such as IV solution bags; nasal cannulas; oxygen tubes; anaesthetic masks and oxygen masks, the scheme helps avoid certain medical devices unnecessarily ending up in the clinical waste destined for incineration. Instead these items are recycled into tree ties for the horticultural industry, reducing waste and promoting that most fashionable of concepts, the circular economy. As of March 2016 the scheme has recycled over 830kg of PVC medical waste and now operates at seven hospital sites. Progress!