Engineering & Advanced Manufacturing Task Group minutes 9 December 2023

Engineering & Advanced Manufacturing Task Group minutes 9 December 2023

Meeting details

Friday 9th December 2023, 09:30-11:00

Location: Online




Organisation, Role


Michele Augousti

Sussex Chambers of Commerce, Board member


Charlotte Clark

No.7 Contact Lenses


Philip Jagger

Bexhill College, Engineering Dept.


Matt Knight

Akro Valve


Kathryn Mountfield

University of Sussex, Careers Engagement


Dr David Oloke

University of Brighton, Head of Technical Education and Apprenticeships


Matt Ryan

ESCC Careers Hub, Enterprise Coordinator


Andrew Pritchard

Bexhill College, Assistant Principal


Keith Wood

ESCG, Engineering Dept


Dermot Clarke

DWP, Employment Advisor


Vanessa Potter

SCTP, Executive Director


Gareth Jones



Debbie Baldock-Apps

ESCG, Business Development Executive


Hannah Brookshaw

ESCC, Partnerships & Projects Manager



Laura Collier

ESCC, Senior Business Administrator



Dan Wahnon

Technoturn – group Chair


Lawrie Alford

LATC Automotive UK

Actions arising from this meeting




Action 1: Feedback on National Manufacturing event to be put on next meeting agenda.


Next meeting

Action 2: Discussion item on the after-school club project at next meeting – development and roll-out


Next meeting

Action 3: KW to discuss potential for CNC course inclusion at Eastbourne campus.


Next meeting

Action 3: All to consider items for the 2024 action plan, using last slide on Data trends powerpoint as ‘food for thought’, ready for workshop style discussion at next meeting


Next meeting

Action 4: businesses to make contact with MR if they are interested in being involved in the new Primary school pilot careers project.



Action 5: Suggestions from the group on items for the AI/automation skills event to be fed in as part of the development of the event.


By next meeting

1. Welcome (new members)

HB chaired the meeting in DW absence. Apologies read (listed above).

2. Review of Previous Minutes & Actions

Feedback on National Manufacturing event to be carried over to next meeting.

CNC course roll-out on today’s agenda.

Engineering after-school club project application has received initial feedback. Overwhelmingly positive, noting that it is a great opportunity for a blueprint to roll-out across county and into other sectors. Formal decision due in February so work can start from May. HB to pick up offer of support from General Dynamics/Kurt J Lesker.

T-Level discussion is part of the Skills East Sussex update on today’s agenda.

Action 1: Feedback on National Manufacturing event to be put on next meeting agenda.

Action 2: Discussion item on the Engineering after-school club project at next meeting – development and roll-out.

3. CNC course – roll-out

KW reported that there are 2 different courses planned: an introduction level course which runs for 6 half-days, including programming, simulation and CNC time; and an intermediate course which runs for 6 full days. These courses will roll out from after Easter. Courses are open to anyone looking for work and possibly existing employees who want to upskill.

KW confirmed that CNC modules have already been embedded into the current T-Level course at the Hastings campus. The Eastbourne campus does not yet have facilities to include CNC but KW will speak to his Eastbourne counterpart about sharing this.

Action 3: KW to discuss potential for CNC course inclusion at Eastbourne campus.

4. National Manufacturing Day event – feedback

Item carried over to next meeting.

5. Feedback from Skills East Sussex October meeting, including T-Level item

HB provided an update from the last Skills East Sussex meeting.

HB provided an update from the last Skills East Sussex Board meeting in October.

The DWP provided their quarterly update and noted for the second quarter in a row, that East Sussex data is bucking the trend with reductions on Universal Credit Claimants in all districts, when compared to neighbouring and regional areas. This work was credited to collaboration between educators, employers and stakeholders through SES and task groups for this.

The DWP is continuing to work on: 50+ SWAP (sector-based work academies),outreach work, ‘Inspire to Hire’ (speed dating for job seekers), job fairs.


TRANSFORM presented their evaluation on project progress so far, the project is well respected by businesses who have been supported it through it. The initial funding is coming to an end, with the intention for the programme to continue beyond this.


An update was provided on the new The South-East Institute of Technology, which is a collaboration between a number of colleges, including East Sussex College Group, focusses on Level 4/5 and higher level apprenticeships in logistics, engineering, construction, health and life sciences.  Capital funding has been provided and are currently underway, including at the ESCG Ore Valley campus, Hastings.


There was a discussion on the withdrawal of BTEC qualifications, with the intention of simplifying educational landscape (A Levels, Apprenticeships, T Levels). There is concern East Sussex businesses (mainly being SMEs) may find it challenging to support 45-day placements, which could impact on the number of students able to be undertake T Levels. Alongside this, there are gaps in provision in T Levels compared to BTECS. SES are to undertake mapping to understand the gaps and the impact this may have, FE colleges are lobbying centrally for solutions on how these gaps will be plugged.

AP confirmed that, going forward, there will only be A-Level, T-Level and apprenticeship options for students. The college will find a way to make them work for their young people.

HB noted that a SES board update will be a regular item to ensure feedback runs both ways.

6. Data trends for the sector

HB now has access to an online Local Labour market intelligence data portal which pulls in data from various sources.

A presentation providing a snapshot of general LMI for East Sussex, as well as Engineering and Manufacturing specific spotlights was shared (attached with the minutes).

HB asked the group to think about potential actions for 2024, which will be discussed and agreed upon at the next meeting. The powerpoint attached with the minutes included a table of current actions: include:

  • Increasing training opportunities at operative level for upskilling, career changers 
  • Acting as a platform for keynote speakers to address the employer network around AI (Artificial Intelligence), Net Zero and Automation
  • A county wide campaign promoting the jobs and sector in East Sussex 
  • Increasing the recruitment of Higher Education graduates into the sector locally

As well as potential ‘food for thought’ for 2024:

  • Engineering after school club development and delivery
  • Improving perceptions of the sector – events etc/primary school focus?
  • Subsector focus/Employer engagement?
  • Training/skills development opportunities?
  • Focus on Apprenticeships?
  • Task Group membership drive?
  • CNC course review?

MK commented that the data is maybe out of date as Eastbourne has seen the loss of a relatively large engineering company recently which doesn’t appear to be reflected in the data.

There has been a decline in the number of engineering apprenticeships offered in the last year.

MK noted that he does not believe AI can be creative or problem solve. AI is driven by humans so creative problem solving should be on the list.

DO stressed that Higher Technical Qualifications should also be mentioned when we talk about apprenticeships. By 2025, learners will be able to study programmes in modular format allowing learners to upskill in particular areas. The university is keen to support the modular offer.

VP is happy to reach out to providers to gain a full picture of delivery coverage for training opportunities and qualifications.

Action 3: All to consider items for the 2024 action plan, using last slide on Data trends powerpoint as ‘food for thought’, ready for workshop style discussion at next meeting.

7. Careers Hub update

MR reported that there are over 10 businesses in the engineering & advanced manufacturing industry involved in the Open Doors programme, which runs all year round.

There is a lot of interest in engineering careers at primary level. The challenge is making an age-appropriate project. Businesses can contact MR if they are interested in this primary pilot.

Industry champions go into schools ad hoc to talk to students, support mock interviews and support young people with their next steps. MR thanked everyone for their engagement in this.

There is work to be done on raising the profile of the sector, changing perceptions and making it appeal to all.

Engagement at primary level is key. Some schools run after-school STEM clubs which are appealing to all genders.

Action 4: businesses to make contact with MR if they are interested in being involved in the new Primary school pilot careers project.

8. AOB/Date of next meeting

Commission for Employment Studies research

HB shared a request for employer views for a research project on what they need and want from the public employment service, which they are defining as any public or publicly-funded services that:

  • help employers to find, recruit and retain the right people for their jobs.
  • help people who want to move into work, stay in work or progress in work.
  • Your views can inform our research and help reform employment support.

Please email to register your interest for a brief 20-30 minute telephone interview, and have your say about how public employment services should be helping employers recruit, develop and retain staff.

Employer views needed: The Commission on the Future of Employment Support | Institute for Employment Studies (IES) (

AI skills event 2024

Feedback from the 2023 Skills Summit in held in May suggested an appetite for an event focused on AI and automation. It is proposed that such event would take place in spring/summer 2024, in person.

There was discussion on the extent of the role for AI in the manufacturing/engineering sector in East Sussex. It was noted that some small businesses in St Leonards are using AI for dealing with large amounts of data and in sales/marketing to reply to enquiries.

There could potentially be a section at the event on automation and how it supports skills and improves productivity. This would be about upskilling, not replacing existing fundamentals.

From a university perspective, DO reported they would like the opportunity to link with other training providers and the need to be creative about providing the right support. Collective action is required to work out what to do to articulate particular employment requirements. The university offer needs to align to specific needs and be dynamically enhanced.

A suggested item is the collective need for East Sussex in terms of businesses and what their needs are forecast to be in AI and automation. How can skills be matched to ensure East Sussex is not left behind?

PJ reported that the college is becoming more aware of AI in the teaching sector. Are there any examples where AI could be used, in automation or elsewhere? This could be a separate piece of work to look at.

Action 5: suggestions from the discussion to be fed in as part of the development of the event.

Thank yous and farewells

MR thanked everyone involved in the Construction and Engineering Tutor Encounter event held back in the summer, which was a success. Careers East Sussex has now secured funding for 2 further events for the Health and Social Care and Creative/digital sectors.

DO is leaving the University of Brighton next month. Steve Sefton will be the university’s representative on this Task Group going forward. HB thanked DO on behalf of the group for all his enthusiasm, commitment and contributions at the various Task Groups.

Next meeting: Thursday 15 March 09.30 – 11.00, face-to-face, venue tbc.