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Car giants BMW and Jaguar Land Rover have joined forces to drive up managerial skills in the UK’s automotive industry.

The ProLead training programme combines existing qualifications and tailors them to provide automotive leaders with in depth management and technical knowledge. It has been developed using best practice from the worldwide operations of UK based car manufacturers.

The programme, developed and funded through the Automotive Industrial Partnership (an industry skills collaboration, supported by government), leads to a higher level qualification, encompassing both theoretical and practical training in leadership and technical management.

Dr Simon Farrall, Head of Apprentice and Associate Training at BMW has been leading the programme, which has had excellent feedback from participants and is delivering impressive results on the shop floor.

Dr Farrall said:

“The ProLead training is aimed at first line disciplinary manufacturing leaders who have formal responsibility for around 50-60 people. It is a big job but those in the role have had little or no formalised training until now.

“Their roles include production management, technical problem resolution, motivating a team and developing strategies to address complex situations. Some participants have been former apprentices who have had the technical background but not the people skills and vice versa. Yet this is a critical management level – it is the first position where the buck stops with them. It is a broad job – strategic, people skills plus the minute by minute responsibility for what is going on in their area of the shop floor. They need the tools and confidence to make decisions and improve the performance of their team.”

ProLead is partly modelled on Germany’s well established and highly valued Meister qualification, which is a pre-requisite for anyone entering this role in the country. This generates a talent pool of future leaders well-prepared for promotions as they arise.
BMW and Jaguar Land Rover are working together to ensure it becomes a standard qualification and around 100 of their managers are among the first cohort on ProLead training courses.

Each participant is assessed to establish any specific learning support required and to agree their individual learning path. The programme takes between 6 and 40 weeks to complete, depending on the individual’s learning path. The average duration is 22 weeks plus on the job time for the NVQ. Formal training is delivered in the classroom, supported by the completion of assignments and overall competence is confirmed by an NVQ level 4 qualification attained by evidence gathered on the job. While one or two of the modules are automotive specific, the skills it teaches can be applied in other industrial sectors. The aim is to turn it into a Higher Apprenticeship programme.

Jon West, HR Director for Manufacturing at Jaguar Land Rover said: “We have had a very positive response from the delegates who are currently on the ProLead programme. When we reviewed the training, delegates told us that it’s filling the gaps in their knowledge and explaining some of the science behind the daily tasks that they do in plant. As a result they feel that it will help them to improve their job performance, achieve targets but also made them feel more engaged with the business.

“ProLead has provided us with a great foundation to help up-skill our Production Leaders. We are now actively reviewing how we can further enhance this training and reach a much broader population so the benefits can be more widely felt.”

Steve Barden, a Process Leader at BMW, who has successfully completed the Institute of Leadership and Management part of the programme said:

“The management and leadership elements of ProLead deepened my understanding of my own leadership behaviour and have enabled me to work much more effectively with my people as I am now able to understand the relative strengths that each member brings to our team. I’m really looking forward to building on this throughout the programme.”

BMW and Jaguar Land Rover anticipate putting hundreds of people through the programme over the next few years with the challenge to increase uptake across other businesses in the automotive and other industrial sectors.
The Automotive Industrial Partnership was established in 2014, bringing together automotive companies and supported by government to ensure the UK’s automotive sector has the pipeline of skills talent it needs now and for the future. The employers driving the Automotive Industrial Partnership include Bentley, BMW, Ford, GKN, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Toyota and Vauxhall. Employer-led skills organisation Semta, industry trade association the SMMT and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and UKCES are also supporting the Partnership.

Notes to Editors
The Automotive Industrial Partnership, with support from the government’s Employer Ownership programme, was instigated by the Automotive Council to help deliver the sector’s automotive industrial strategy. Set up in 2009, the Automotive Council is a platform for dialogue between industry and government, and to work together to drive the sector to global leadership.

Semta
Semta (Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance) is a not-for-profit organisation at the epicentre of skills – helping to create the next generation of engineers and ensure that the UK continues to play a leading role in utilising and enhancing its unrivalled reputation for technological excellence.

SMMT
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is one of the largest and most influential trade associations in the UK. It supports the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad, promoting a united position to government, stakeholders and the media.

SMMT Industry Forum
Is a manufacturing improvement specialist, bringing together a world-class combination of expertise, insight and best practice to the automotive sector.

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