Ceramics experts pledge support to virtual learning academy

Linda McQuade, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce
Linda McQuade, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce

SOME of Staffordshire’s largest ceramics companies have been appointed to head up the Ceramics Skills Academy programme.

Led by Academy Director Linda McQuade from Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, the programme aims to revive the ceramics sector and ensure essential knowledge and skills are passed to future generations.

Among the 15 board members, 10 are ceramics companies headed up by board chair member Ann Moult of Johnson Tiles, and include representatives from Churchill China, Steelite, Wades, Dudson, Portmeirion and Emma Bridgewater.

The Academy has been created in response to concerns within the industry regarding an ageing workforce and problems attracting young people to replace them, together with a gap in support for training, particularly in the technical side of the business.

Linda McQuade explained:

“The Academy will be virtual hosted on a website, rather than in a building, which is currently under development and is set to launch very soon. It is of critical importance as the numbers of young people coming through into the ceramics industry simply isn’t enough. This issue can only be solved by everyone working together, and the Academy aims to bring together all the resources from education and industry in an effort to invigorate, revitalise and develop the industry.”

Initiatives planned for the Academy include school visits to companies and creative engineering projects, together with support to new ceramics business start-ups including training, information and expert advice.

A mentoring scheme will also be developed together with support for existing ceramics workers, employer networking meetings and systems put in place to help assess training needs.

“Collectively these strategies will inspire future workers, train new starters and support existing ceramics staff.Thanks to the board we now have in place, we can ensure the CSA is truly industry driven and has the specialist knowledge which will steer it to success.”

 

Members of the board are as follows:

Francis Morrell, British Ceramic Confederation

Ann Basnett, Churchill China

Sarah O’Hanlon, Dudson

Ann Moult, H&R Johnson

Paula Wardle, Ibstock Brick

Elaine Austin, Morgan Advanced Materials

Sara Williams, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce

Margaret Beckett, Portmeirion

Louise Griffin, Steelite & Royal Crown Derby

Paul Farmer, Wades

Elizabeth Salt, Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton

Claire Plant, Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton

Denise O’Sullivan, Denise O’Sullivan Ceramics

Kate Ellis, Emma Bridgewater

Linda McQuade, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce

 

Board member Francis Morrall from the British Ceramic Confederation, added:

“Alongside the need to secure future generations for the industry we need to guarantee the technical skills to make sure that the industry remains at the cutting edge of quality and customer service. This means developing qualifications which will attract young people into this vibrant and forward thinking industry.”

For further information about the Ceramics Skills Academy contact Linda McQuade on 01782 202222, or email linda.mcquade@staffordshirechambers.co.uk