Next Gen Workforce at world-leading electrical engineering company

16/08/16

SEVCON is a world-leading low-carbon business and has operated in the North East for over 50 years.

From its Team Valley headquarters it designs and manufactures controls for zero emission electric and hybrid vehicles.

The fast-growing company is at the forefront of the ongoing global transition from fossil fuels to clean energy; from internal combustion engines to hybrid and electric vehicles.

Key to Sevcon’s innovate DNA is its investment in people; a huge amount of time and money is spent securing a skilled pipeline of staff to support future growth.

Fundamental to this is Sevcon’s apprenticeship scheme and the bursary it runs for students at both Newcastle and Northumbria University. Sevcon covers university tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year and offers a salary of £25,000 per annum upon graduation.

Their investment can also be seen in their affiliations; the company is a founder member of the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) where Sevcon President and CEO Matt Boyle Chairs the NEAA Skills Group.

The NEAA tackle skill shortages in the region’s supply chain and are key representatives for the North’s automotive community.

Research released by the NEAA suggests that the industry will need at least 10,000 new staff over the coming 10 years and this requirement will almost double when a further 8,500 people retire in the coming decade.

Matt Boyle, President & CEO of Sevcon & Chair of NEAA Skills Group said: “We are looking to attract 2,000 new people into the industry each year; therefore it is vital that we capture potential new recruits at a very young age.

“One of our key aims is to spark an interest in engineering at primary school level so we are developing programmes and courses to engage with youngsters across all ages.”

Mr Boyle said the region needs to better support the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

“We haven’t shown kids going into university how good a career in engineering can be and that it is a job for life,” he said.

“We’re living in a region with high youth unemployment levels but there are companies like mine crying out for a pipeline of skilled workers.

“But unlike Germany, America and Japan we don’t respect engineering skills. If you’re a degree-qualified engineer overseas you’re highly revered whereas here it’s a case of the washing machine is broke, can you fix it? We definitely need to change this mentality.

“At 10-years-old children are thinking about becoming footballers but we need to encourage them to think about a career in engineering.”

Sevcon employs over 50 skilled engineers in Gateshead and Mr Boyle believes that the interest and momentum behind the global transition to low-carbon transport will drive the company’s growth for years to come.

He added: “The worldwide electrification movement is prompting our ambitious research and development agenda.

“We believe the market is beginning a meaningful shift towards larger electric and hybrid vehicles, and that inflection point may well be closer than many people think.

“Our product roadmap has the potential to put us in the sweet spot for this next phase of electric vehicle market growth. The future has never been brighter for Sevcon.”

Julie Mordue, relationship manager, NRG introduced Sevcon to the Manufacturers’ League and comments, “Sevcon is working to ensure that the ambitious people plans of tomorrow are met today. The preparations put in place now will ensure that the industry remains resilient.

“Sevcon is educating young people and widening the training options available. A career in the production of electric and hybrid vehicles will be seen as viable, exciting option for the region’s workforce.

“Sevcon’s commitment to this is clear, their framework for training combined with their allegiance to the NEAA and now the North East Manufacturing League will mean people make informed choices when considering training and education in manufacturing.”