Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems

Delivering future generations of clean and efficient vehicles

Topic: Automotive

Why today’s skills shortage matters

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📥  Automotive, Industry, labour market, skills

In my last blog I outlined how UK automotive in 2016 is in an enviable position but must keep moving forward by innovating through new research and development if it is to continue to capture the future market share. Here, I want to turn to the other piece of the jigsaw that it’s fundamental we get right: Upskilling our current and future workforce so that we have the right people in place to fill the high-end, advanced engineering jobs this industry creates.

Earlier this year, Automotive Council UK set out how 5,000 jobs lay vacant in UK automotive due to current skills shortages. That’s a depressing statistic and something that is undermining future growth in the sector. The report finds that 20% of those unfilled vacancies are ‘critical’ and having a ‘significant impact’ on companies’ operations.

This is a challenge recognised nationally, regionally and by the sector. The UK government’s ‘Driving the Future Today’ strategy, launched in 2013, outlines four key priorities, one of which is investing in skills. On a regional level, our Local Enterprise Partnership covering the West of England has highlighted similar issues directly impacting on this part of the world; specific skills shortages in High Tech, Low Carbon and Advanced Engineering.

IAAPS will offer extensive industry-led training opportunities including new Masters and PhD programmes.

IAAPS will offer extensive industry-led training opportunities including new Masters and PhD programmes.

Here at the University this is where our plans for the Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) can come in. In addition to the industry-led experimental research that IAAPS can foster, our Institute will also provide world class training and development opportunities, helping to deliver the highly skilled engineers that our industry partners are crying out for.

Aligning neatly with the University’s own strategy for postgraduate education, we want IAAPS to be a training environment that nurtures research leaders of the future and upskills our current workforce. We’ll do this through a significant investment in new Masters and PhDs programmes, as well as through new apprenticeships.

And by developing this skills provision with our industry partners in-line with their needs, those going through our courses will be exposed to real world challenges, ensuring that their employability having graduated will be second to none.

Labour productivity for UK automotive is currently the highest in Europe, but sustained future growth will only continue if we plug the skills gap the industry is facing. IAAPS can help achieve this by training the next generation of advanced automotive engineers.

Steve Egan CBE is Vice-President (Implementation) at the University of Bath and the key contact for the University’s plans to develop IAAPS at the Bristol & Bath Science Park.


In partnership with industry for a global vehicle research facility

📥  Automotive, Industry, R&D

When you align research conducted by some of the world’s best engineers with specific industrial challenges you create a truly powerful force for generating impact.

It’s the approach we’ve taken here at the University of Bath and it’s the principle reason why we’ve been so successful in advancing automotive and mechanical engineering for the past 40 years. Through our Powertrain & Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC), we’ve earnt a solid reputation for delivery and have worked with the automotive industries on nearly 100 projects. The 17 active research projects we have on the go currently are worth a total project value of more than £40m.

By aligning our work with the needs and challenges of our industrial partners - Ford, Jaguar Landrover to name just two – our researchers have delivered innovative solutions that address key challenges, like engine downsizing, improved fuel consumption and lower vehicle emissions.

Professor Hawley outlines our plans for IAAPS.

Professor Hawley outlines our plans for IAAPS.

Our work in partnership with industry, on turbocharging, delivering low-carbon systems for hybrid engines, or reducing engine CO2 emissions, have each helped us become a leader for research, innovation and delivery. Last November this position was formally recognised when we were announced as one of the UK’s leading automotive propulsion groups, selected as a Spoke of the Advanced Propulsion Centre.

Together, this is why we at the University are ideally placed to spearhead plans for a next generation of research into advanced automotive propulsion systems, and help UK PLC deliver on its vision for a ‘Propulsion Nation’ where R&D can be carried out at home, not abroad.

We are cementing plans for a new Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS), to be based at the Bristol and Bath Science Park, that would truly put Bath at the centre of future advanced engineering developments and provide a cutting edge facility to benefit the UK automotive industry.

IAAPS will be a global centre of excellence delivering transformational R&D for future generations of low carbon propulsion vehicles. And not only will this deliver solutions to emerging industrial and environmental challenges, it will generate significant economic returns including thousands of jobs for the region.

As we lay out our vision over the coming weeks and months via this blog, I and the team behind IAAPS will expand on our plans and explain why these issues are so important to tackle and why Bath is best placed to deliver them.

Professor Gary Hawley is Dean and Medlock Chair of Engineering for the Faculty of Engineering & Design.