Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Task Group minutes: 9 June 2023

Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Task Group minutes: 9 June 2023

Meeting details

Minutes of the Engineering & Advanced Manufacturing Task Group

ON: Friday 9th June 2023

Held: 10-11:30 at Room AEG3 - Advanced Engineering Building, Moulsecoomb Campus, University of Brighton

Attendees and apologies



Organisation, Role


Dan Wahnon

Technoturn – Chair


Dermot Clarke

DWP Eastbourne, Employment Adviser


Holly Aquilina

Skills East Sussex, Employability and Skills Strategy Manager


Henry Clayson

East Sussex Careers Hub, Project Assistant


Kathryn Mountford

University of Sussex, Careers Consultant, Careers and Entrepreneurship


Lucy Mitchell

East Sussex College Group, Assistant Principal Hastings (Station Plaze and Ore Valey)


Matt Knight

Akro Valve Ltd


Noel Painting

University of Brighton, Senior Lecturer School of Environment and Technology


Steve Sefton

University of Brighton, Technical Education and Apprenticeships Hub Business Development



Donnalyn Morris

Skills East Sussex, Employability and Skills Project Officer



Andrew Pritchard

Bexhill College, Assistant Principal


Charlotte Clark

CooperVision, HR Business Partner


Donna Harfield

East Sussex College Group, Assistant Principal


David Oloke

University of Brighton, Head of Technical Education and Apprenticeships


Dominique Whitefoot

Edwards Vacuum, Talent Development Specialist


Gareth Jones



Gregory Spink



Lawrie Alford

LATC Automotive, Principal Consultant


Michele Augousti

Sussex Chamber of Commerce and Institute of Directors Chair


Melanie Butcher

LSIP, Construction,  Engineering and Manufacturing Stakeholder Lead


Matt Mainstone-Ryan

East Sussex Careers Hub, Enterprise Co-ordinator


Philip Jagger

Bexhill College, Engineering Teaching


Paul McMullen

Veolia, Facility Manager


Ruth Hopkins

DWP, Employer Adviser Hastings & Bexhill


Vanessa Potter

Sussex Council of Training Providers, Executive Director

Actions arising from this meeting




1.    Develop an ‘afterschool’ club for engineering and manufacturing

ESCG/Careers Hub

29 January 2024

2.    Members to engage with employers joining and participating in the TG

As per discussions


3.    To look at dates/times for holding a CNC/Intro to Engineering course and advise group/DWP


29 September 2023

4.    To make referrals to the course, allow staff to attend


When date(s) known

5.    Discuss having an event/venue tying in with the Task Group meeting



6.    Follow up with FE Sussex about the universities involvement in Teacher Encounters’ Event


12 June 2023

1. Welcome (new members)

DWa welcomed everyone present, particularly LMi who was attending her first meeting of the group. She is a qualified engineer having done a four-year apprenticeship with significant industry experience. DC advised that he is the single point of contact for Engineering & Construction covering most of the county.

DWa voiced disappointment that more employers were not present. The meetings are scheduled well in advance, and this had always been due to be face to face with County Hall, Lewes as the original venue.

2. Review of Previous Minutes & Actions

Minutes agreed.

Regarding actions from that meeting, Teachers’ Encounters is considered to be a good initiative, but the Engineering sector needs to be approached differently to the Construction sector.

Even more so than Construction, the sector is SME dominated locally. Large employers tend to look internationally not locally to recruit. SMEs tend to recruit apprentices at level 2 or 3, not graduates.

DWa said that most SMEs do not have a standalone HR or marketing department so do not feel equipped to do events. Large firms tend to send HR personnel to the Task Group, engineers are wanted too to have those meaningful curriculum discussions.

Constraints and pace of change means colleges cannot respond as quickly as employers would like.

There is real concern about the skills gap, especially in Hastings. The area has a higher than average number of people with no qualifications, and lower than average at level 4 or above. Firms have large vacancies and backlogs.

DC said that he has been trying to get employers to engage, it takes time.

HC noted that a critical mass of activity outside the quarterly Task Group is needed. DWa advised that progress has been made in the last 12 months. KM suggested that they agree specific organisations to approach.

DC raised that there are fewer places to go, or fewer children doing things like ‘tinkering with engines’, they may now be playing Minecraft. HC suggested developing activities for pre-college age to pique interest. In MK’s work as an Enterprise Adviser (EA) and work experience he gets young people to make things. This brings out problem solving skills, and the most satisfaction. LMi has had Girl Guides visits to the engineering department.

ACTION 1: Develop activities for getting interested in engineering and manufacturing – Task Group. May be taken forward in a working group.

ACTION 2: Members to engage with employers and others on joining and participating in the group – ALL

3. Skills Summit 25th May – feedback

HC thanked people for coming, noting thanks to speakers KM and DO.

HC raised that 2030 is not that far away to reach Net Zero targets. 690k green jobs are needed, with a further 170k needed to underpin those. Many people already in the workplace need to upskill.

HC said that not as much was said about AI (Artificial Intelligence) as expected as people ‘don’t know what they don’t know’). DWa said that in their sector, this has been there for years, called automation. AI is now higher up the agenda due to the potential impact on white collar jobs. Journalism is one area that is already being affected so journalists are talking about it. There will need to be a boom in cyber security – the University of Brighton Cyber Security Technologist Higher Education Diploma starts this September.

A key development is more modular learning. The impact of the lifelong learning loans and level 3 entitlement should also support those wanting to access training to do so.

Net Zero is hard to define. Hydrogen is greener than converting to electric but it worries people. MW pointed out the lack of a one-planet approach whereby the UK now imports materials from coal-fired power stations across emission emitting tankers because the materials are no longer made in clean UK environments with less travel miles.

Many more people need to get into Engineering and Construction. These industries need to make themselves more attractive. This is about values and flexibility as well as being a clean place to work. It is greener to build here. Parental conceptions are often out-dated.

Flexibility is important to keep and develop talent, especially those with caring responsibilities.

There is a lot going on that is positive to promote, such as the IoT. Dialogue between businesses and training providers is improving.

Agreed to look at a cross-county Engineering in East Sussex campaign. The Careers East Sussex  local sector pages are a starting point and additional input from employers is welcome.  FE Sussex and Sussex Learning Network could be part of this.

DWa gave the example of Bristol Robotics lab, but noted they have private funding from BAE.

DC said that he sees few Engineering and Construction firms at Jobs and Careers Fairs. Short-staffing is one reason people do not attend. Not attending does not help attract staff or promote vacancies.

4. CNC Proposal and ESCG update

LMi is ‘passionate about all of the routes’ into the field, levels 2 and 3, HNCs, HNDs, degrees and apprenticeships. An issue is that young people on reaching college do not know what engineering is. There are a breadth of roles: auto, mechanical, machinery and electrical.

ESCG’s commercial department is working to support SMEs. Three CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) machines have moved to the new workshop. The kit for vacuum sintering (sintering is forming a solid mass of material through heat and pressure without melting to the point of liquefaction) is not there, but this is ‘not dead in the water’ and obtaining it is being looked at through the IoT (Institute of Technology) . Sussex and Brighton universities are lead partners in the IoT.

LMi had presented to the 1066 Manufacturers’ Group recently. She had presented the costings, which Elaine Remon had done to this group back in November 2022. It is not viable at present. The new deputy head of curriculum is CNC-trained and they are looking at other models of delivery. They are also looking at potential funding, such as a Skills Bootcamp. These take time to sign off and be compliant. It needs numbers to be viable.

Upskilling existing staff could be looked at. The cost to them would be different. HC raised using Multiply funding as the courses core is maths and measurement. Under this scheme if qualifications are more than 10 years old, people may qualify to take part, there is a £120 backfill incentive for employers.

DWP customers are welcome. It would be good if the course could be open to those who have been unemployed less than six months as well as longer-term claimants, and also those looking to change career/upskill. 

Agreed that ESCG find dates for the course and ask SMEs and DWP to fill it. This will at least test the level of interest and give feedback.

ACTION 3: To look at dates/times for holding a CNC/Intro to Engineering course and advise group/DWP – LMi

ACTION 4: To make referrals to the course, allow staff to attend – DWP/Employers

In response to MW’s view that Health & Safety courses are always in supply, LMi explained that such courses are ‘bread and butter income’. The college is a public sector organisation having to work within parameters set by others, but they also need commercial courses to make enough money as they cannot all be subsidised. Providers can be creative, but publicly funded educational institutions need to follow and deliver the core curriculum they are given.

The employer exchange is working with Heads of Curriculum to meet local businesses. Recruitment to technical and vocational roles continues to be difficult and she is very pleased with recent appointments.

The campus at Newhaven will start delivery of Marine Engineering in September 2023.

National Manufacturing Day is on 28 September 2023. This would be too early to host an event at Newhaven. DWa’s preference is for an event in Hastings with the 1066 Manufacturers group.

ACTION 5: Discuss having an event tying in with the Task Group meeting – DWa/HC/LMi

Note – Manufacturing and Engineering Week 2024 live event is in Birmingham 5-6 June 2024.

5. Teachers’ Encounters

HC gave an overview of the Careers Hub. It is funded by the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) to strengthen careers information in schools and colleges. This is done by strengthening ties between businesses and education providers. Employers participate through activities such as Open Doors (workplace tours), industry Champions (promoting the sector) and Enterprise Advisers (helping a school/college work on its careers strategy). There is also linked activity to promoting apprenticeships and work experience.

Employers could support more initiatives and their own long-term future by supporting these activities. Exposure to the sector is required to raise interest and dispel myths.

The Teachers’ Encounters Day is on 5 July. FE Sussex are leading on behalf of the Hub. The idea came out of a successful bid to the CEC to hold a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) event. An aim is to expose school/college lecturers and teachers (the issue is not as acute at FE) to current industry and new technology including practical workshops.

NP said that he has not been approached by FE Sussex and it had not seemed a good fit for the University lecturers. DM said that university lecturers are the people who are suitable to deliver the workshop. LMi added that these lecturers are the ones who know about the latest research and kit. Stephen Burkes, the former SES Project Manager, had passed on NP’s contact details amongst others in March.

The steering group had developed from the Construction & Civil Engineering’s working group on Curriculum Development. This is why Engineering have come on later following the successful bid. However, SES and Hub staff are keen to have Engineering and automotive have equal representation on the day.

Two keynote speakers are booked for the day – Lucy Davies, Engineering at BAE and Duncan-Baker Brown, Architect.

ACTION 6: Follow up with FE Sussex about the universities – DM

6. Careers Hub update

Wendy Gorham, the Careers Hub leader is not here today as she is at a Primary Careers Hub. Following a pilot a few years ago, this is being rolled out. Research shows that stereotypes based on gender (often tied to socio-economic background) are there at ages 6/7 so the earlier all children open their minds to more possibilities for others as well as themselves, the better.

7. AOB/Date of Next Meeting

Research has also shown that of women in construction and engineering, 90% had family in the industry.

DM mentioned the website, She Builds UK. A father had set this up in repsonse to his young daughter saying she could not become a builder as ‘only men are builders’. DWa stated ‘every female engineer I’ve ever met has been technically better than me’. MW finds the girls on work experience are often more able than the boys.


World Engineers Day is marked on 15 September annually. This years’ theme is “Engineering innovation for a more resilient world.”

Tomorrow’s Engineers usually have a week of events in November. 

Next meeting scheduled for 21 September, 10:30-12:00 at County Hall, Lewes.  Alternative venue welcome.

Meeting after that is scheduled for 8 December, 09:30-11:00, online only.