The North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) is in the vanguard of the emerging skills agenda to support the transition towards net zero.

As part of this drive, over 40 delegates, including education providers and businesses, discussed the green skills required to support the transition to net-zero and ensure that North East firms can fully benefit from government investment made to support the electric revolution.

The event took place at NA College IoT extension and was co-hosted by the NEAA and the North East Institute of Technology (NEIoT).

Margherita Pasquarelli, head of strategy and Institute of Technology, NA College, said: “NA College welcomed business leaders and innovative leads from across the North-East from the automotive, supply-chain and electrification industries, to discuss emerging skills and the skills gap within the region.

“The highly collaborative event provided a much-needed connection point for larger and smaller contacts, to get the conversation going and to set a path towards tackling the challenge. The event also featured net zero and sustainability at its core and provided, all attending, the ability to begin their green agenda via NA College and the new smart factory concept.”

Speakers included Matt Boyle, chairman of the NEAA who discussed skills requirements in the North East and Sharon Grant, director of North-East Institute of Technology, who talked about the NEIoT and how it is aligning teaching to growing business needs. The emerging skills agenda was addressed with sessions on Power Electronics Machines and Drives (PEMD) from Rachel Chambers, chief operating officer at Driving the Electric Revolution Industrialisation Centre North East and the Emerging Green Skills Challenge from Iain Nixon, vice principal partnerships and commercial (Group) at Education Partnership North East.

Claire Curtis, – production control manager, Nissan, presented the skills required to support Nissan’s EV36zero strategy. She also highlighted Nissan’s requirements to engage, attract and retain a robust pipeline of skills in the engineering and manufacturing sector. Margherita Pasquariello, closed the speaker session talking about the circular economy and NA college’s commitment to provide the green skills required to support the sustainability agenda. In addition, Michael Cromarty, electrification lead from NA college, presented the Electric Vehicle Evolution to support the sustainability agenda and Paul Butler, CEO at the NEAA, chaired a panel discussion.

The NEAA’s commitment to the wider skills agenda was evidenced recently with its appointment by the Department for Education to deliver an employer-led, local skills plan, across Durham, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland. The Government’s skills for jobs white paper set out the blueprint for reshaping the technical skills system to better meet the needs of employers and the wider economy.

As part of this new approach, the Department for Education set aside £20.9 million to create Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) in 38 areas across the UK. The aim is to forge a stronger and more dynamic partnership between employers and further education providers that will enable provision to be more responsive to the skills needs of employers in local labour markets.

Being employer-led, LSIPs are uniquely placed to highlight the skills employers need most in the workplace. LSIPs will provide an agreed set of actionable priorities that employers, providers and stakeholders in a local area can get behind to drive change.

Paul Butler, CEO, of the NEAA said: “As one of the largest membership bodies in the UK, we are only too aware of the skills challenges facing industry in the drive to net zero. We are determined to be at the forefront for change and our appointment to coordinate and manage a Local Skills Improvement Plan, is evidence that we have a mandate to do so.

“In terms of this most recent event, much discussion centred on how we need to come together as a sector to address the skills challenges, which delegates all agreed, can’t be tackled in silos. The NEAA is a vehicle for innovation and change and we will relaunch our skills working groups to support this agenda.”