Skip to main content

Manufacturing: Northern Ireland

Volume 684: debated on Wednesday 12 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will ensure that manufacturing in Northern Ireland has access to the expertise and practical support provided by the Department for Trade and Industry's Manufacturing Advisory Service.[HL6717]

Government, through Invest NI, provide the broad range of manufacturing sectors within Northern Ireland with access to both expertise and practical support similar to that provided by the DTI's Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS). The agency encourages manufacturing businesses, through its Technical Advisory Unit (TAU), to make technological improvements in their business processes through increasing collaboration with universities and research establishments. The TAU follows similar delivery criteria to the MAS.

In addition, Invest NI's Business Improvement Services and Innovation, Research and Technology Division offer a wide range of services to manufacturers. These include programmes such as Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), Lean Manufacturing, Supply Chain Development, Interim Manager (often used by manufacturers implementing new manufacturing processes), and process development support under both Compete and Product/Process Development schemes.

Other national R&D programmes, such as Smart and Smart Micro, are also promoted within Northern Ireland by Invest NI. These also encourage Northern Ireland companies to develop innovative efficient processes (and products).

These support measures are integral parts of Invest NI’s objectives of helping companies to become more innovative, entrepreneurial and internationally focused.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will ensure that the interests of manufacturing industry in Northern Ireland are considered in any plan to establish a National Manufacturing Skills Academy.[HL6718]

SEMTA, the sector skills council for the science, engineering and manufacturing technologies sector, is progressing plans for a National Manufacturing Skills Academy for England only. Centres of excellence across the priority skills areas in Northern Ireland, including manufacturing, have been established in further education (FE) colleges. In light of the new FE Means Business programme, these centres of excellence are being strengthened to become the recognised hubs for specialist skills development at levels 3 and 4 in NI and to reinforce the relationship with employers. Any proposal for a National Manufacturing Skills Academy to operate in NI would therefore be considered within the context of existing policy and the new structures of FE.