Manufacturing Forum Blog

A blog by Tom Nadin

Acting chair of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce Manufacturing Forum

The focus of the Manufacturing Forum during the last year has been on dealing with life during the pandemic and post Brexit whilst looking forward to what resources the sector needs survive post-Covid19 as well as finding a way forward with our new trade relationship with the EU.

Funding and financial support has, and continues to be, near the top of the agenda for our meetings as we made sense of the Government’s Jobs Retention Scheme and the plethora of loans, grants and schemes brought in by the government to help business through successive periods of lockdown.

At the end of March 2021, the Chambers held the Staffordshire Manufacturing Expo in conjunction with Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub. This prestigious online event featured support sessions from Staffordshire and Keele Universities, the Growth Hub, the Skills Hub and the DIT.

Special guest presenter was Adrian Painter, MD of Stoke based 3D printing industry leaders Tri-Tech 3D. Ian gave an overview of their technology and its application in several sectors including automotive, aerospace, animation, general manufacturing, and many more.

Rob Lawley, head of international trade at the Chambers, has attended meetings in the past to update the group on the export situation with the EU, post-Brexit. The fact that the UK and EU only signed a deal on 24th December, leaving a matter of days in between the Christmas and New Year meant business has had to pick up the pieces of a chaotic start to our new relationship with EU.

Rob and his team have literally worked seven days a week since January to ensure the customs declarations paperwork was in place and to offer the necessary guidance for the new arrangements.

The ability to continue trading with the EU and dealing with supply chain issues are unfortunately topics that are not going away any time soon. Therefore, dissemination of as much information and guidance to help manufacturers remains a priority. The Chambers has a wealth of information available both online and through contacting the international trade team.

Another topic that occupies the forum is the Skills agenda. Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Skills Hub headed by Suzanne Quinn, have done a fantastic job, working with hundreds of Staffordshire businesses, facilitating training relevant to each organisation, and providing significant funding to offset costs.

The Manufacturing Forum is grasping the opportunity to shape the skills agenda so that we get the right tools for the job and help the next generation take the sector forwards.

Equally important in this quest is take up of apprenticeships and placements through the Kickstart scheme which offers fully funded six-month work placements for 18–24-year-olds up to the end of 2022.

You will see that there is a lot of work to do to ensure our manufacturing sector maintains its competitive edge. We are always keen to welcome new forum members so that we have representation from all shapes and sizes of manufacturing and engineering businesses. We meet quarterly and meetings usually last for about two hours maximum.

If you would like to find out more about what we do or are considering joining the Manufacturing Forum, please email me:

If you want to talk about any business issues, you can call the Chambers switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email:

To join the Forum discussion click here Hot Topics — Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce

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