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Aerospace and defence supplier welcomes new skills plan

The Let’s Talk campaign in North Yorkshire is asking local people about what is important to them about where they live, how they think the new North Yorkshire council should spend their money and what they hope devolution will bring. This case study is from Let’s Talk Devolution.

A leading UK supplier to the aerospace and defence industries has welcomed the prospect of closer links between employers and education providers in North Yorkshire as it expands its highly skilled workforce to meet growing demand for its specialised engineering products.

Sylatech is to create up to 30 new jobs as part of a multi-million pound investment programme at its design and manufacturing facility in Kirkbymoorside to take advantage of growth opportunities in domestic and global markets.

As part of a proposed devolution deal with the Government, York and North Yorkshire will get new powers to boost local skills to meet the needs of the local economy. The powers will allow education providers to be more responsive to requirements of local employers like Sylatech and help young people in York and North Yorkshire to develop the skills they need to get good jobs and increase their career prospects.

Gordon Gunn, commercial director at the family-owned business, said: “We would absolutely welcome more targeted support and funding for training and skills in the local area. We have good relationships with colleges in Malton and York, but there is a shortage of new apprentices and we want schools to understand there are good opportunities locally for long-term careers in engineering.

“Our business is buzzing. We are the largest employer in the local area with 135 employees and we are forecasting turnover to grow by 20 per cent to £9 million this year. We are creating 20 to 30 new jobs over the next three years and we are looking for engineers with microwave and radio frequency skills, computer control programmers and machine operators.

“Because we cannot get all the skills we need locally, we have to use subcontractors from outside the local area. We have a great relationship with our supply chain but the local area is missing out on economic development opportunities. High street shops, local accommodation and other amenities could benefit if we didn’t have to subcontract this work.”

Sylatech designs and manufactures high-precision components and assemblies for the aerospace, defence and space industries. Customers include European aerospace and defence giants Thales and Saab. Exports account for 60 per cent of sales. The company is taking part in the Government-backed Sharing in Growth transformation scheme to expand the UK aerospace supply chain.

Sylatech was an early adopter of the four-day working week, which it introduced five years ago to help improve work-life balance for production staff. The company is part of a small cluster of manufacturing companies in Kirkbymoorside serving global growth sectors. The founder – Mr Gunn’s father-in-law – established Sylatech in his hometown in 1964.

Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said: “The proposed devolution deal for York and North Yorkshire will help companies like Sylatech to flourish and prosper by giving us new powers to better shape local skills provision to meet the needs of the local economy. North Yorkshire is a great place to start and grow a business and our deal aims to build a stronger partnership between employers and further education providers.”

Have you heard about devolution? A public consultation is live and runs until mid-December.

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