Press release

Industrial Cadets creates talent pipeline for UK engineering and manufacturing industries

Employers have created a new industry standard for workplace experiences inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales, with funding from UKCES.


Following a successful pilot, Industrial Cadets is set to motivate large numbers of young people to consider careers in the engineering and manufacturing industries, thanks to funding from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

Many industrial sectors have some of the highest levels of skills shortage vacancies in the UK economy, according to research amongst 90,000 employers. Mechanical engineers, machine setters and engineering professionals in particular are the most difficult to recruit.

Industrial Cadets is a structured framework, which gives 11-19 year olds the opportunity to participate in industry-based activities, develop their personal skills and raise awareness of career opportunities. Employers delivering accredited programmes are able to develop a structured approach to their talent pipeline.

The programme was inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales and officially launched at Tata Steel in Redcar in 2011. A group of 24 students from 5 local schools – all aged 13-14 years old – took part in the pilot. Since then, over 1400 students have benefited.

Pilot results so far:

  • 94% of students learnt more about careers in manufacturing and industry
  • 65% said they were more likely to go into a career in manufacturing and industry
  • 60% of the initial Cadet cohort at Tata Steel have gone on to choose to pursue engineering as a career

HRH The Prince of Wales, who first inspired the initiative, spoke to employees at Airbus, one of the employers taking part:

I want to say how encouraging it is that you concentrate so much on the apprenticeships side of the equation. Most of the engineering firms that I speak to tell me that there’s a large black hole appearing because so much of the older generation are disappearing. The problem is to make sure we can actually encourage enough young people to learn the skills to revitalise our manufacturing sector because this country’s always been so famous for that.

Thank you, Airbus, for taking such a lead and adopting the Industrial Cadets programme. I hope that this will lead to more young people seeing that they may have a possible career in this sort of industry.

Over £4.7 million of funding is being made available to enable the programme to reach an additional 4200 young people through over 300 employers across the UK over the next three years.

The funding comes from a co-investment model, with £1.8 million provided by UKCES and the remainder as a mix of cash and in-kind contributions from the employers involved.

Michael Davis, Chief Executive, UKCES, said:

It is essential that we motivate and inspire young people to consider a career in manufacturing and engineering at an early age. The Industrial Cadets programme has proven it does just that. By bringing businesses together with education providers, we have a chance to address future skills issues now.

Gordon Mizner, CEO, Engineering Development Trust (EDT), responsible for the Industrial Cadets accredited programme, commented:

Employers in the manufacturing sector are concerned about skills shortages, particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Working together to address such issues and create a skilled and motivated workforce is the way forward. Industrial Cadets unites young people and businesses, creating a quality standard for workplace experiences and providing a structured approach to the development of a future talent pipeline.

Jon Bolton, Director, Tata Steel Long Products, said:

The Industrial Cadets programme is a great way of opening young people’s minds to the amazing opportunities in our industry. The Industrial Cadets framework is flexible which means it is suitable not only for large organisations, such as Tata Steel, but can engage successfully with SMEs – through a collaborative approach. This allows SMEs access to talent at an early stage making sure they can get the correct skills and competencies they need for their future needs.

Employers looking to get involved in the Industrial Cadets initiative can get more information here or by emailing

Notes to Editors:

The Industrial Cadets industry-led accreditation is run by education charity the Engineering Development Trust (EDT).

Employers taking part include:

  • Aero Engine Controls
  • Airbus
  • AkzoNobel
  • BAE Systems
  • Dudson
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Müller
  • Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd
  • Steelite
  • Tata Steel

Over two-thirds (69%) of employers involved in the pilot programme already had school engagement/workplace experience programmes in place. However the ability to offer a nationally recognised accreditation and to share best practice attracted them to the Industrial Cadets programme.

HRH The Prince of Wales addressed Airbus employees at a recent celebration event to mark the Broughton plant’s 75th anniversary on 12 September 2014, where he showed his support for the Industrial Cadets initiative.

Ervin Davis, Strategic Support Director, Dudson (one of the oldest china companies in England, founded in 1800) said:

As a manufacturing company, like many others, we are facing a skills gap in the areas of mechanical and electrical engineering. The Industrial Cadets programme enables industry to demonstrate that there are interesting and satisfying careers in engineering and manufacturing companies.

Greg Simmonds, Senior Programme Manager, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said:

The Industrial Cadets initiative has already delivered enormous value to a large number of young people across the UK. GSK have taken a leading role in championing and growing the initiative and it has been inspiring to see talented role models from all of our UK sites engaging with students and bringing science, engineering and technical careers to life.

We are excited to take a leading role in growing Industrial Cadets and making a truly positive impact on the career aspirations of young people. In particular, over the next 12 months, we are focusing on working with local businesses and supply chain partners across the UK to engage, inform and enthuse even more young people about the exciting and rewarding opportunities that a career in industry can offer.

Published 15 October 2014