When it comes to jobs – and job prospects – all you hear these days is doom and gloom.
And last week’s news that the UK economy shrank by 0.7 per cent in the last quarter hasn’t helped matters.
But one local glimmer of hope was Erewash Partnership’s exhibition event in Kirk Hallam on Wednesday.
Chatting to local businesses and students about to start looking for work, it became clear that areas like Ilkeston, with unemployment problems, need to look at what they’ve got on their doorstep to see that there could be a bright future after all.
In fact the first thing to see on entrance to the Lakeside Hall was a huge sub-sonic wind tunnel – looking like something straight out of science fiction – made by Long Eaton-based Tecquipment right here in the borough.
Manufacturing accounts for one in five jobs in Erewash – more than twice the national average – and the 40 or so firms at the exhibition reflected this statistic.
And Erewash Partnership – with members in a diverse range of industries – is currently trying to drive home the message that there is a bright future in Erewash’s manufacturing and engineering sector.
One student at Kirk Hallam Community, Technology and Sports College has already caught on to the opportunities available locally and is hoping to become an apprentice at one of a number of nearby engineering firms.
“I don’t know why engineering wouldn’t attract people my age,” said Louisa Bull, 15, who is from a family of engineers.
“It’s a really interesting kind of work – I love looking at aeroplanes and studying them.
“And it suits me because I want to work close to home and there are lots of options around Ilkeston and Derby.”
One of the firms Louisa is hoping to gain an apprenticeship with is Ilkeston’s Atlas Composites, which had a stall at the exhibition.
“It’s the growth sector,” said marketing manager Lee Day.
“What we do is the future of UK engineering and manufacturing – you can’t take this and do it in China, it’s what the UK does best.”
He explained that strong links with Derby College and other local schools have provided them with 15 apprenticeships in the 15 years since the company started.
Partnership chairman Ian Viles said getting young people to realise engineering as a career option was ‘crucial’ in Erewash.
“These opportunities are on their own doorstep,” he said.
“And I don’t mean in Derby or Nottingham – this sub-sonic wind tunnel was built in Long Eaton.”