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Young people manufacture future ideas at  Black Country wide competition

The Black Country’s high schools proved they have what it takes to ‘Make It in Manufacturing' by inventing the transportation solutions of the future and competing in a region-wide competition yesterday (7 November 2013).

The team from Leasowes High School in Halesowen battled their way to victory against eleven other schools in the Make It with The Skills Factory Challenge, a collaboration between The Manufacturing Institute and The Black Country Skills Factory, an employer-led project supported by government funding whose aim is to address the skills shortages in the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) sector in the Black Country, the only scheme of this kind across the UK to focus specifically on the HVM sector.

The 13 and 14 year-olds had to set up their own mini-manufacturing businesses and were tasked with designing, building and marketing their own Future Transport Solution (FTS) for their choice of customer.

On the day, teams completed a series of tasks, each taking on job roles from managing director to operations managers through to finance, sales and marketing managers.

They were also challenged with developing a brand for their company before pitching their fully costed ideas in a Dragons’ Den-style presentation to manufacturing industry leaders from across the region including representatives from United Technologies, ZF Lemforder UK, Huf UK, Hadley Industries and Caterpillar Wolverhampton.

Judges praised the team from Leasowes High School whose ‘flying bullet’ vehicle was designed for business people to whizz through towns and cities. The judges were really impressed with the team’s use of lightweight materials and how they had considered their customer throughout their business ideas.

Meanwhile, the team from Aldersley High School came a close second with their environmentally-friendly FTS which ran on tracks and used bio-diesel to reduce the impact their product would have on the environment.

Outstanding Individuals on the day were Kieran Bradley from Brownhills School and Charlotte Bradley from Moreton School.  Both won plaudits from the Dragons for their all-round enthusiasm and can-do attitude throughout the day.

This special event was used to launch The Skills Factory’s programme of work with local schools which will see the Challenge being rolled out to 25 schools across the Black Country region in partnership with the local Education Business Partnerships.  It is part of a wider series of activities that will see The Skills Factory support local manufacturing businesses and increase the pipeline of skilled staff moving into high value manufacturing careers.

This series of events which The Manufacturing Institute is supporting through its ‘Make It’ campaign, aims to attract the brightest and best new talent into manufacturing by promoting the sector as an exciting and rewarding career option for young people. 

Stephen Melia, Make It Events Coordinator, said: "All of the schools participating in this challenge showed a real ability to be creative and think innovatively – which is exactly what modern manufacturing is all about. By connecting young people to manufacturers through practical hands-on events, the ‘Make It’ campaign is a really effective way of inspiring a future generation of young talent for the manufacturing sector.”

Colin Parker, Director at The Skills Factory, said: "The Skills Factory are extremely pleased to be collaborating with the Manufacturing Institute and industry leaders to encourage young people to find out more about Manufacturing and the scope of employment opportunities available to them, from the shop floor to specialist machine operators to managers and marketing specialists. Events like the Make It challenge are a real opportunity to get young people excited about manufacturing in order that we can continue to develop specialist High Value Manufacturing skills in the region.”

Both schools will now go through to Make It’s Grand Final to be held in summer 2014.

For further information please contact:

Stephen Melia, Make It Campaign Coordinator
0161 875 2512
07795 605 239

Participating schools were:



 ACE Academy


Aldersley High School 


Bishop Milner Catholic College


Brownhills School


Holly Lodge School


Leasowes High School


Moreton School


Pedmore Technology College


RSA Academy


St Thomas More Catholic College


Willenhall E-Act Academy


Windsor High School


Participating manufacturing industry leaders were:



Paul Linton

Huf UK 

George Andrews 

NES Ltd 

Vicki Wilkes 

Phoenix Calibration Ltd

Fiona Turner

ZF Lemforder

Bob Johnson

United Technologies

Steve Smith

Lift & Engineering Services Ltd

Ambi Multani

Brockmoor Foundry

Tertia Morgan

Hadley Industries

Bob Boyd

Extraction Services Ltd

Dave Gregory

Caterpillar, Wolverhampton

Dean Boden

Caterpillar, Wolverhampton

Kay Mitchell

Caterpillar, Wolverhampton

Picture credit: The winning team celebrate with the Industry Dragons

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