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Midlands auto manufacturer tells Bank of England chief about commitment to skills

Leading Coventry-based vehicle components manufacturer, Liberty Pressing Solutions, has told the deputy governor of the Bank of England how the business is committed to continue investing in skills despite the auto industry facing twin the pressures of Brexit uncertainty and question marks over the future of diesel vehicles.

During a fact-finding visit to the 700-worker plant at Canley yesterday (23rd January), deputy governor, Ben Broadbent, heard how the company has relaunched the site’s apprentice scheme, suspended under previous owners, in order to ensure it has the skills in place to build a stronger future.

Ian Whale, divisional managing director of Liberty Vehicle Products, which includes the Canley site, told Mr Broadbent how technical skills had become depleted in the automotive sector through many years of under-investment and this gap now needed to be tackled urgently.

He said: “As an industry we have short-term challenges such as the uncertainty over the impact of Brexit, and problems caused by the fall-off in diesel car sales, but rebuilding the skill base is a long-term task that we can’t delay, if the industry is to have a future.”

This week Liberty Pressing Solutions at Canley will be among the finalists for the ‘investment in people’ title at the UK Future Manufacturing Awards being held by the Engineering Employers Federation in London. The company qualified for the final after being chosen by EEF as Midlands champion in this category.

In the course of his visit, Mr Broadbent heard how the plant, which produces 46 million parts every year for leading vehicle manufacturers, was acquired by the Liberty House Group in 2017 as part of an expansion drive which has made Liberty one of the biggest industrial employers in the UK with a total of 5,500 staff. Approximately half of these are based in the West Midlands.

Dr Douglas Dawson, chief executive of Liberty Industries Group, who accompanied Mr Broadbent on his visit said: “This is both an exciting and challenging time for the automotive sector. It is an international success story which should be supported by the Government both in the short and long term in order to protect its competitiveness and supply chain expertise. Regardless of Brexit, we believe the current on-shoring trend will have a positive long term effect on our business. We remain optimistic about the future of the sector and we valued the opportunity to share our experiences and ambitions with the Deputy Governor.”

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