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Boosting skills and innovation within Welsh manufacturing businesses

Written by zoo_visitor_guest / Monday 1st August 2016 / ION leadership news


In August 2015, Swansea University was one of five organisations chosen by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) to test new ways to develop skills for innovation in manufacturing.

Building on the successful delivery of previous leadership development programmes, Swansea University in partnership with EEF; the manufacturing forum, and Industry Wales developed and delivered a 12-month training programme, called SIM Wales, aiming to help boost skills and innovation within Welsh manufacturing businesses. 

SIM Wales took the principles developed as part of Swansea University’s recent leadership development course, and applied them to the manufacturing industry.

Working with business leaders and senior managers, the programme focused on developing skills and knowledge around the management of innovation and the development of a culture of innovation within participant’s organisations.  This was achieved via experiential learning – participants learnt through first-hand practical experience.

Project lead, Gary Walpole commented:

“The SIM Wales programme was designed to affect real change and real improvement in businesses in Wales, which can only have had a positive effect not just on the firms involved but also on the wider Welsh economy.

 “The UKCES award was made on the grounds that we were able to offer new and ground-breaking proposals to boost the skills and business practices needed to maximise the value of UK innovation. We have very much enjoyed doing just that over the last 10 months.”

UKCES Commissioner and leader of the competition Paul McKelvie OBE said:

“Innovation is vital for our national prosperity. It has a critical role in productivity and job creation, and nowhere is this true more than the manufacturing sector. It’s vital that that we learn how manufacturing firms can optimise their workplaces and processes to take best advantage of their high-skilled, highly productive workers.”

The SIM Wales end of project report can be found here -

Case studies:

We gathered two case studies highlighting the successful outcomes from participation in the SIM Wales programme for two Welsh companies – Brecon-based Beacon Foods Ltd and Llanelli-based EBS Automation Ltd. Click on the links to read their stories.

Beacon Foods Ltd 

EBS Automation Ltd 

While the SIM Wales programme has now ended, Swansea University also offers the ION leadership programme, a selection of courses designed for the growth orientated business, next starting in September 2016.  These are designed to develop and enhance the leadership skills of owners, managers and key decision-makers of businesses located across the Convergence region of West Wales and the Valleys. ION leadership offers intense, engaging and effective new courses tailored for people with different levels of leadership experience.