This year’s Leeds Manufacturing Festival, which last week launched an extended line up of events that will run until December, has announced the headline organisations backing its 2024 programme.

Leeds City College, engineering and manufacturing recruiter E3 Recruitment and Next Gen Makers, which runs a benchmarking and accreditation scheme for manufacturing and engineering apprenticeships, have all returned to sponsor the festival, now in its seventh year.

The initiative, which has built considerable momentum since its inception in 2018, now counts a host of big-name manufacturers such as textile firm AW Hainsworth, Sulzer Pumps, Arla Foods and mattress manufacturer Harrison Spink among its participants. It aims to address the skills and recruitment crisis facing manufacturing and engineering employers by showcasing to school and college students the wide range of well-paid career opportunities on offer in the industry.

Leeds City College head of engineering Mitch Scott said: “It’s vital that as education providers we work closely with business to make sure we are equipping young people with the right skills both for themselves and for the regional economy. Our work with the festival gives us a first-hand understanding of the challenges facing local businesses and their proactive support in helping us develop apprenticeships, T Levels and the curriculum is invaluable.”

Highlights of Leeds Manufacturing Festival 2024 festival include a series of factory visits to leading companies such as Airedale International Air Conditioning and LBBC Technologies to promote best practice in manufacturing, plus the launch of a new careers resource showcasing the region’s ‘best in class’ engineering employers.

The programme also features a manufacturing careers showcase at Leeds City College, a female-focused speed networking event for students to meet women at all stages of their careers and in manufacturing, and live careers panels in schools, bringing employers and apprentices face to face with students to give them the opportunity to find out what working in modern manufacturing is like.

Matthew Booth, associate director at festival sponsor E3 Recruitment, said: “As a specialist engineering and manufacturing recruitment business, we see the effect of the skills gap every day and there’s an urgent need to address that challenge for employers. We need people in production, engineers, commercial teams, welders, machinists – any skill you can think of, we need in manufacturing.

“The Leeds Manufacturing Festival is totally dedicated to getting more people interested and into this industry. We’re very proud to be working alongside our fellow sponsors to make a difference over this next year, and we’d urge even more manufacturing organisations in Leeds to get involved.”

Adam Tipper, managing director of Next Gen Makers, which launches its Excellent Engineering Employer careers resource next month as part of the festival, to promote best practice in engineering apprenticeships, said: “As well as being a progressive city, Leeds has a thriving engineering and manufacturing base and it’s incredibly important to raise awareness of this and inspire the next generation towards careers in engineering and manufacturing in Leeds.

“The city is also host to a wealth of manufacturers committed to providing opportunities for young people to start their career via apprenticeships. We’re really proud to be supporting the festival and enabling more companies within the Leeds manufacturing community to stand out as employers of choice for engineering apprenticeships.”

Ben Wilson, chair of Leeds Manufacturing Alliance and director of Leeds-based glass reinforced plastic moulds manufacturer MPM, added: “Our sponsors play a really active role in the festival and are involved at every level. Their support is essential to enable the festival to reach as many young people as possible and show them the wealth of exciting and diverse career paths that are out there in the industry.”

The festival is also sponsored by Leeds City Council and manufacturing employers MPM, Leeds Welding Company, Greyhound Box and Sound Leisure, Kirkstall Precision Engineering, Saftronics and Bensons Panels, which are members of the Leeds Manufacturing Alliance.

For the second year, Leeds Manufacturing Festival is supporting the work of the Howarth Foundation, which helps people who are homeless or in unstable accommodation to find work or training.

Find out more about the Leeds Manufacturing Festival events, running until the end of the year, here.