The BPF has formally established an Education and Skills Committee that will encourage the availability of skilled staff in the plastics industry.
The Committee is a constituent part of the BPF’s structure with the Secretariat being undertaken by Cogent, the Sector Skills Council for Science Based Industries, which is fully collaborating in the venture.
Philip Law, BPF’s Director General, said: “Skills are now at the top of the industry’s agenda and future growth depends on filling the gaps. A direct engagement with the skills issue is an historic step for the BPF.”
At an initial meeting held on 27 January, attended by a cross section of plastics firms as well as training providers and universities who supply into the plastics industry, Philip Watkins, Managing Director of Gabriel-Chemie, was unanimously elected as Chairman. He is the immediate past President of the British Plastics Federation and represents the Federation on the Cogent board.
“The aim of this new committee is to promote the flow of personnel into the industry who either possess the appropriate skills or who have the potential to acquire them,” commented Watkins. “It will cover all issues connected with plastics including primary, secondary and tertiary education. It will tackle issues relating to the recruitment of staff into the Plastics Industry, the provision of training and the acquisition of appropriate skills.”
Watkins said the Committee will liaise with industrial companies and groups both inside and outside the British Plastics Federation, government departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, educational establishments, government sponsored agencies, professional institutes and training providers.
“The first challenges are to address the current needs of the industry by clarifying exactly what training schemes are available and by giving a much higher profile to the Science Industry Partnership’s (SIPS) and the Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards. One way that the BPF will address this is through a seminar, ‘Demystifying the Plastics Skills Landscape,” Watkins added.
In addition, the Committee plans to carry out a detailed consultation across the Federation’s 480 membership firms to clarify their exact skills requirements. The Committee aims to create a clear roadmap to help plastics firms to develop their staff and to train apprentices.
“One of the clear themes throughout my Presidency has been to increase the availability of skilled staff in the plastics industry. This is something urgently needed by the industry. This committee provides, for the first time, a dedicated forum within the BPF to help tackle these needs,” explained Mike Boswell, President of the BPF.