Totally immersive!


PPMA Total Show 2016 is set to return to the Birmingham NEC this September for the first time in its history, moving from its usual Spring slot. Over 300 exhibitors are already signed up to exhibit at the 2016 event, set to make it bigger than the last PPMA Total Show in 2014. David Harrison,‎ PPMA Group Exhibition Manager, tells us all about it.

What makes the Total Show different from the PPMA Show?

Total 2016 exhibition differs from the PPMA Show as it incorporates the PPMA, Pakex and Interphex brands. It will open its doors to a wide range of materials, containers and packaging design companies as well as playing host to companies specialising in pharmaceutical manufacturing equipment and engineering solutions.

What are the major issues being discussed at the PPMA Total Exhibition?

The PPMA Total Show 2016 will play host to an extensive seminar programme, and one of the hottest topics up for discussion is the skills gap and the future of manufacturing. Emma McLeod, Principal Engineer for Process Solutions Global Chocolate R&D Team, Mondelez International, will give an inspiring, accurate and up-to-date insight into the opportunities in engineering in the largest industry in the UK.

Why is tackling the skills gap so important to the manufacturing industry?

The skills gap is still one of the major issues affecting the manufacturing industry. According to business group EEF, three-quarters of companies say they have faced difficulties finding the right employees in the last three years.

The skills shortage is putting productivity growth at risk and adding to pressure on manufacturers as they battle a host of challenges in domestic and overseas markets. The struggle to find the right people with the right skills is compounding the recent news from the manufacturing sector that it has slumped into recession in the face of tough export markets. It this therefore hugely important that the skills gap is addressed as soon as possible.

What is the PPMA Group doing to help?

The PPMA Group has established the PPMA BEST (Business Education, Skills and Training) charity. It was created in 2014 to encourage young people to enter and develop a career in engineering within the processing, packaging, robotics, automation and industrial vision industries through education, training and support.

PPMA BEST is currently funded by the PPMA Group of Associations for the benefit of the industry and member companies with the primary aim of addressing the on-going skills shortage and tackling short and longer term recruitment needs.

What programmes does PPMA BEST offer and what age groups does PPMA BEST cater for?

PPMA BEST offers four programmes to a variety of age groups to encourage young people to enter and develop a career in engineering ranging from financial grants to match funded bursaries. One, the Engineering Apprenticeship Awards, offer a financial grant to support companies who may not have previously employed an apprentice. PPMA BEST offers a grant to sponsoring companies looking to take on an apprentice. This not only helps the cost of set up but provides a source of advice from experienced manufacturing professionals. It is further supported by grants available directly to the apprentice to support workplace learning programmes.

Another, the Arkwright Scholarship, is targeted at A-Level students. The programme, which has already been hugely successful, offers match-funded competitive national scholarships for STEM students. It is designed to identify, inspire and nurture future leaders in engineering and technical design. So far, over 92% of Arkwright Scholars, from the 3,700 scholarships awarded to date, have continued their journeys in engineering Further Education or training. 20 of the UK’s top engineering universities work with the Arkwright Scholarship Trust to deliver this opportunity.


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