Leeds looks ahead to Manufacturing Festival highlights

Leeds Manufacturing Festival, set up to showcase the range of careers on offer across Leeds’ diverse manufacturing sector, moves up a gear from the beginning of October with a series of high profile events in the city.

Kicking off with the Skills Yorkshire careers convention on 2-3 October, expected to be attended by thousands of young people, festival organisers aim to promote the varied careers available among Leeds’ 1,800 manufacturing firms.

Held at Elland Road, Skills Yorkshire is the region’s largest careers exhibition. Leeds manufacturing employers will talk to young delegates at the event about working life and opportunities in modern manufacturing companies at a stand shared with tandem initiative Bradford Manufacturing Weeks.

Later that week, on 4 October, employers will take part in the Leeds Manufacturing Festival Live event at Leeds’ specialist UTC manufacturing and engineering college. Manufacturers and young people working in the industry will take questions on careers from an audience of college students, with hundreds of other young people participating online via Twitter and YouTube.

The manufacturing festival comes to a climax on 22 October with a grand finale exhibition at Leeds Civic Hall. The ambitious event will celebrate some of the city’s most innovative and pioneering manufacturers, with bosses on hand to discuss jobs, skills and careers in person with young people.

Unilever, whose Leeds site is the largest deodorants producer in Europe; silicon healthcare products manufacturer Medasil; the world’s only vinyl-playing jukebox manufacturer, Sound Leisure; and ESG, which manufactures lighting systems for emergency services vehicles, are among the Leeds employers taking part.

The event will also be open to members of the public and will offer a rare insight into the city’s wide-ranging manufacturing sector.

Graham Cooper, director at high-tech printing products manufacturer Agfa Graphics in Leeds and a festival organiser, said:

“There’s a misconception among young people, which I think comes from their parents and to some extent their teachers, that manufacturing is no longer a viable career option. In fact it is thriving – and nowhere more so than here in Leeds.

“Following the success of last year’s initiative, we wanted to make this year’s Leeds Manufacturing Festival even bigger and better. As well as the centrepiece events there is a full programme of school and college visits, talks and factory tours taking place in the build up to and beyond October.”

He added: “Leeds Manufacturing Festival is all about opening up manufacturing workplaces to young people and highlighting the exciting careers and job opportunities that are available right here in our city, covering a huge variety of different roles. We’re urging as many young people, and employers, as possible to get involved.”

Now in its second year, the festival is sponsored by RSM, Womble Bond Dickinson, The Works Recruitment and Leeds City College. It is organised by Leeds Manufacturing Alliance, with the support of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, Leeds City Council and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The initiative is complemented by Bradford Manufacturing Weeks, which take place in October.

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