Thursday 28th April saw the launch of GEMX – Generating Engineering & Manufacturing Excellence, at an event taking place at the Catalyst Innovation Centre, Derry/Londonderry. The network is supported by Invest Northern Ireland through its Collaborative Growth Programme.
Speaking at the event, Project Director, Joanne Sweeney has said “The network aims to bring together key individuals from a range of organisations to raise awareness of manufacturing and engineering within the North West, whilst developing a pipeline of talent and encouraging collaboration between industry and education.”
NuPrint Technologies is the lead partner of the group, supported by AE Global, PPSL and Flemings Agri. The overall purpose of the network is to enable a group of manufacturing and engineering companies to work together to exploit opportunities and enhance their competitive edge.
At an in-person event, representatives from industry and education heard from key players in the sector including Rose Mary Stalker, Invest NI Chair, and Stephen Kelly from Manufacturing NI, whilst being given the opportunity to shape the future and focus of GEMX.
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council was also in attendance.
As the Chair of GEMX, Paul Kirkpatrick from DuPont “welcomes support and involvement from additional manufacturing and engineering organisations along with interested stakeholders.” He foresees the opportunity for the North West to “become a centre of excellence for the sector” and “encourages activity to enable this.”
Gavin Killeen from NuPrint Technologies has said “This is an extremely interesting and challenging area of employment with a vast range of opportunities. We have employers in our network from areas such
as agriculture, chemicals, printing, food, electronics and clothing. Employment entry levels are varied so interested students can progress their education in a flexible way, with vocational routes on the apprenticeship ladder now being available from Level 2 upwards. Education can continue alongside work if that is how a person prefers to progress within their career.”
Joanne Sweeney believes that “Engineers solve problems and hopefully this will be the key to the success of GEMX. We need to actively promote all routes within education and accept that we all learn in different ways. An effective workforce must be made up of a variety of people with a range of skills if economic needs are to be met.”
“We need to harness the abilities of educational establishments and ensure that they are being fully utilised by local industry. Through the elimination of stereotypes, we can develop an engineering pathway to inspire children and young adults and encourage them to pursue careers in an exciting, dynamic environment which is future-proof.”
Invest NI’s Collaborative Growth Programme is aimed at SME-led networks and provides support for groups to pursue innovative collaborative projects with the potential to increase business competitiveness.