SME support launched to STEM sector

The University of Derby has revealed a refreshed package of SME support to “strengthen the capability of businesses in Chesterfield and the surrounding region, with access to research and expertise that can help foster innovation.”

The support was unveiled to businesses at Barrow Hill Roundhouse at the launch of Made in Chesterfield (20 November). It follows the recent announcement that the Spanish train manufacturer Talgo has established its new head office in Chesterfield and in 2034 the town will get an HS2 station.

Speaking at the event Professor Warren Manning, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology, said: “We want the East Midlands to grow, innovate and improve productivity in order to meet the opportunities that HS2 and the wider rail industry will bring to the region.

“We need 6,000 extra workers in Sheffield City Region (SCR) and D2N2 to deliver HS2 and a key part of that is upskilling existing workers in digital skills.

“The University of Derby is committed to supporting business growth amongst SMEs so that they can take full advantage of the opportunities the rail sector and wider supply chains presents to them.”

Responding to the skills shortage reported by companies operating in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) sector, the Made in Chesterfield campaign has been established in the borough to bring together education providers and businesses to ensure local young talent is aware of the myriad of STEM jobs and careers available.

Sponsored by University of Derby, Made in Chesterfield is co-ordinated by Destination Chesterfield in partnership with Derbyshire Education Business Partnership. It is also run in partnership with MSE Hiller, United Cast Bar Ltd, NatWest and Placing Futures and also supported by businesses operating in the sector.

The University of Derby is offering SMEs in the region a range of business support services and people development programmes to help drive operational improvement and growth. The support is delivered through University of Derby with funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Launched in 2015 in response to manufacturing and engineering companies in the north Derbyshire town reporting long term recruitment difficulties, the annual Made in Chesterfield campaign has been instrumental in raising awareness of careers in the sector with 3,000 students reached since the campaign began.

Employers in the sector are offering school leavers a variety of opportunities, including apprenticeships, degree apprenticeships and graduate training schemes.

Ivan Fomin, Destination Chesterfield board member responsible for manufacturing and engineering in the borough, commented on the importance of attracting young people to companies operating within Chesterfield’s STEM sector. He said: “With HS2 on the horizon and Talgo’s recent investment in the town, there is a huge opportunity for the region to become recognised as an international centre of rail research and innovation.

“Made in Chesterfield is playing an instrumental role in bringing together education providers and businesses to ensure local young talent is aware of the myriad of STEM jobs and careers available here.”