Valve industry acts to close skills gap

Valve industry acts to close skills gap

A group of ten young professionals from valve and actuator businesses across the UK have graduated from a year-long programme to maximise and accelerate their leadership potential.

The initiative, led by the British Valve and Actuator Association (BVAA), aims to bridge the gap between ‘older leaders’ and ‘future leaders’. 

A number of the participants - who were nominated for the demanding schedule by their employers - were from the North of England, including Newcastle, Brighouse and Wigan.

Monthly personal development sessions focus on areas ranging from presentation and networking skills to emotionally intelligent leadership and team alignment. Each participant also coordinates and hosts an educational event supported by their employer, so the entire cohort learns more about the wider industry. This year’s events ranged from a tour of Stanlow Refinery to witnessing cryogenic testing of LNG valves and an introduction to the 5S workplace organisation methodology.

This is the third year the BVAA has run its Future Leaders Programme. With a leadership crisis facing many engineering-led industries, the association is empowering young people in valve and actuator businesses to step-up. It’s also enabling senior leaders from competitive organisations to work together to address this industry-wide challenge.

BVAA Chairman Colin Findlay, pictured, explains: “The Future Leaders Programme unites promising individuals from all corners of the industry, creating a fertile space where they can learn and grow together, away from the pressures of day-to-day work. This is good for their own careers of course. But it’s also good for the industry at large. We’ve created a neutral platform where businesses can put their competitive differences to one side and collaborate to tackle the leadership crisis. Three years in, we’re already seeing benefits and the industry will be stronger, healthier and more resilient as a result.”

After graduation, participants become mentors to the incoming Future Leaders Programme cohort. And regular reunions arranged by the BVAA give them the opportunity to continue cultivating their professional network.

The BVAA has represented the British valve and actuator industry for 80 years, and has around 200 members ranging from specialist SMEs to global engineering firms. The industry is a major STEM employer in the UK: 9,000 people are directly employed by valve and actuator businesses, and the industry contributes £3bn to the UK economy each year.

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