by Rachael McCorriston from JLR
Jo Lopes is Head of Technical Excellence Engineering Strategy & Transformation at Jaguar Land Rover, where he has overall responsibility for developing and nurturing engineering skills and competencies within the company. Jo has long worked to support alignment of the policy agenda with industry skills requirements, firstly through his role as chair of skills for the UK Automotive Council, and latterly, as Chair of the Human Capital Work-stream for the European Commission’s GEAR 2030 project which has been designed to boost automotive competitiveness.
Jo has very kindly agreed to answer some questions, posed by the SKILLMAN partnership, in order to help us understand more about the skills challenges facing manufacturing, in particular, at European level and with particular reference to the automotive sector.
Hi Jo, from your perspective, what do you consider are the major skills challenges facing today’s Advanced Manufacturing for Transport sector?
In the digital era, we can expect to see an increased demand for digital and advanced engineering skills. The technological change we are witnessing is having a major impact on today’s automotive industry; this will be a period defined by the arrival of electrification and advanced combustion engine (ICE) technologies, as well as, of course, digitalisation and a new business environment. Evidently, it’s now vitally important that all members of the automotive value chain will have to invest in up-skilling and retraining, from the shop floor upwards.
What is Gear 2030, and how is it helping to meet these challenges?
GEAR 2030 was launched in 2015 by the European Commission with the objective of supporting the automotive industry to become more competitive, and in particular, to draw up a plan to develop technology for completely driverless vehicles and to make these cars available in Europe by the end of 2030. CLEPA (European Association of Automotive Suppliers), Renault, Bosch and ACEA, (European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association) along with Jaguar Land Rover number among the group’s members. The role of the Human Capital Working Group – of which I am Chair – has been to develop recommendations and draft a skills framework to address the industry trends I’ve outlined, all with a view to ensuring that the necessary skills will be in place by the 2030 deadline. We are currently in the process of finalising this piece of work.
Would you agree that there is a role for funded projects such as SKILLMAN in supporting the helping Gear 2030’s vision become a reality?
Absolutely! Projects such as SKILLMAN are vital in helping transfer policy recommendations into practice. The focus on up-skilling apprentices, students and members of the supply chain, – as in the case of SKILLMAN – and the development of tried and tested approaches to tackling skills is exactly what is required. There is now also an opportunity for projects funded through Erasmus+ to join up with other initiatives, including ESCO (European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations) which identifies and categorises skills, competencies, qualifications and occupations relevant for the EU labour market, education and training. There is also the Drop’Pin Initiative, the European youth portal, which is tackling youth unemployment. There are so many excellent initiatives and lots of opportunity for these to link in with Gear 2030