Midlands Businesses find voice with RAPRA

Pictured above: Right to left: Steve Shaw of RAPRA, Richard Walton, Membership Director, RAPRA, Phil Jones, Chief Executive, National Skills Academy Process Industries.


Plastics and rubber businesses in the West Midlands can now have their say in creating a new skills platform for the industry, thanks to a unique partnership between RAPRA and the National Skills Academy Process Industries.

RAPRA, which is Europe’s leading independent plastics and rubber research and technology association and has 16 member companies in the West Midlands employing more than 3,600 people, is working alongside the Skills Academy to create a world-class workforce with its agenda led by employers for employers.

The partnership could help many of the other process industries employers in the Midlands region, which turnover more than £17,000 a minute and employ 36,000 members of staff between them.

The RAPRA member companies benefitting from the collaboration range from large multinationals such as JCB in Uttoexter and the Kumbo Tyres European Technical Centre in Birmingham, to small highly specialist companies such as DKL Technical Rubber Products in Wem, Shropshire.

The Skills Academy ‘s Midlands Regional Skills Manager Neil Wilkinson said:  “We are delighted to be working closely with RAPRA and its impressive membership base, which represents thousands of employees.

“Feedback from RAPRA’s membership base will help in the delivery of projects such as ASET, a service to allow employers to gain Academy recognition for the delivery and quality of their in-house training provision, and the Gold Standard, which is a nationally-recognised suite of qualifications against which employers can measure and verify employee skills to industry standards.”

Since it became a founder Corporate Member of the Skills Academy , RAPRA has been able to see the training and skills needs of its Midlands members reflected by the Skills Academy .

It is now working alongside training providers and Cogent, the Sector Skills Council for the science-based industries, to develop a range of products and services designed to address industry skills shortages. 

Steve Shaw, RAPRA’s Business Relationship Manager, is a member of the Skills Academy ‘s Regional Skills Board for the West Midlands .

He said:  “We applaud the Skills Academy ‘s decision to establish a base here in the Midlands and are pleased to work closely with them. This work will greatly improve the training and development framework of plastics and rubber companies and the entire process industries concentration in the region.

“The Skills Academy’s aim is to work alongside employers and training providers to develop training programmes that are specifically constructed to match employer need, rather than adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach and imposing standard training courses from the top down.

“This fresh approach is exactly what our members tell us they want and need if they are to see their businesses become more successful, and through our support for the Skills Academy we look forward to helping them play a full and active part in the development of the skills academy’s activities here in the region.”

The Skills Academy ‘s Regional Skills Board for the West Midlands is currently developing its regional strategy. This includes activities such as leadership and management requirements, continuous improvements and the huge Return on Investment this offers, apprenticeships and improving the industry image by working with schools and colleges.

The process industries include the chemicals, pharmaceutical and polymers sectors. 

The Skills Academy was established to help close the process industries skills gap and chose the Midlands as one of five regional bases where a high concentration of process industry employers are located. 

The Academy is now in its second year of operation and regional staff are very much concentrating their efforts in working with employers and training providers to identify and address skills issues in a way that puts employers in charge of driving the changes needed throughout this £23bn industry.

The partnership sees RAPRA, which provides privileged access to world-class technical and information services for companies involved in rubber or plastics, feed its members’ skills and training issues back to the Skills Academy , and see that feedback incorporated into the design and delivery of a new training and accreditation framework that will resolve industry skills issues. As members of RAPRA they can also be offered a 20% reduction in Corporate Membership of the Academy.


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