Plant & Works Engineering

Manufacturing skills opportunity for young

Published:  22 June, 2009

The Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design (MPD) will be available in a total of 48 areas from next year following its initial roll-out in 28 areas this September. A further 20 consortia - partnerships of employers, schools and colleges set up to deliver the Diploma have now been given the green light to begin teaching in September 2010 by Schools Minister Jim Knight.

The Diploma in MPD is one of 14 industry-linked Diplomas being introduced for 14-19 year olds as an alternative to A-Levels and GCSEs. It has been developed by a partnership of the five manufacturing sector skills councils Improve, Semta, Cogent, Proskills and Skillfast-UK which has drawn on the expertise of leading employers to ensure the qualification gives students a sound footing in real skills relevant to the manufacturing industry.

Derek Jones of food and drink sector skills council Improve, which has led the development of the Diploma in MPD, said: "We have developed the qualification in direct response to the common complaint manufacturing companies make that there is a shortage of young people entering the industry with appropriate knowledge and skills. For the very first time, manufacturers are being given the chance to engage directly with young people before they leave school or college. Their involvement in delivering the Diploma in MPD will ensure students develop a practical understanding of the rich diversity that characterises manufacturing, pick up transferable skills required in the workplace, and establish a solid foundation from which they can progress on to further studies, training or work.

It is great news that by September next year, students in nearly 50 areas around the country will be able to take the Diploma in MPD. What we now hope to see is even more companies coming forward and showing an interest in getting involved, joining or forming consortia, and taking advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to inspire and educate a new generation of workers."

Major names including JCB, Land Rover, GlaxoSmithKlein, Cadbury's, Unilever and BAE Systems have all played a role in the development of the Diploma in MPD. It is built around core topics of business and enterprise, material science and product design, and production systems, with the option for students to take additional and specialist learning units which could include taking extra qualifications in specific aspects or sectors of manufacturing. Students" are tested for competency in English, Maths, IT and personal skills such as team working and problem solving, and must complete an extended project and a minimum of 10 days work experience.

Employers working with consortia to deliver the Diploma will contribute in a variety of ways including giving talks, hosting site visits, setting project topics, keeping teachers up-to-date with industry trends and offering work placements.