A call to the Electronics Systems Community to help develop an R&D agenda for the UK

ESCO is conducting a survey to inform future Research and Technology priorities and is calling on industry to provide feedback before 30th June 2015.

Electronic Systems underpin technology progress in all key markets and capabilities, including Transport, Energy, Health and the Internet of Things. It is a vibrant industry in the UK, employing more than 800,000 people and contributing more than 5% to GDP.

For the first time the community is seeking to develop a complete and comprehensive picture of R&D capability and technology trends which will be used to influence investment and joint working to further support and grow the industry.

Dr. Alison Burdett, Chair of The ESCO Technology Group (TG) and CTO at Toumaz Group, said: “gaining insight into the research and technology needs of the UK Electronic Systems community gives us an opportunity to help drive economic growth. This survey is a practical way to help us do this. We encourage all parts of the industry, from component suppliers to end product manufacturers, to participate in the survey and help set the course.”

Warren East CBE, Chair of ESCO and CEO (Designate) of Rolls Royce Holdings, said: “The launch of this survey is highly significant in the development of the electronic systems capability in the UK and I would encourage all interested parties to participate”.

To compete this short survey, please click here

Attracting High Quality Talent to our Industry – UKESF Update

The enormous potential of our electronic systems industry is clear for all to see. But without a constant stream of skilled workers not only will it fail to reach this potential, but the industry’s current worth and workforce will be in serious jeopardy.

The indications are that demand is growing.  In the NMI 2015 Employment Survey, respondents revealed an increasing demand for engineering talent at all levels. Compared to the 57% of participants who had recruited graduates in the last 12 months, 71% of participants are looking to recruit graduates in the next 12 months.

In addition to securing under-graduate work-placements for promising students, UKESF facilitates employer engagement with schools.  The ‘Our Electronics Environment’ project piloted in 2013 is now an annual event in both Bristol and eastern England, and will be launching in Scotland in 2015.

UKESF’s employer-sponsored summer school at the University of Southampton attracted 80 A-level and Scottish Higher students from 77 schools across the UK – twice as many as the inaugural course in 2011.

Charting the progress of UKESF’s Scholarship Scheme, employers from the electronics industry have so far awarded a total of 174 UKESF scholarships, backed by over £1 million investment. The current academic year sees 25 companies involved, offering a total of 65 scholarships.

Only by acting together now and supporting sector-specific initiatives like UKESF can we ensure that we have the necessary pool of exceptional talent to drive our industry in the future.

Yes, the future for electronic systems looks bright, but only if we have enough bright sparks!

Contact for further information.

IET research study – please have your say on Electrical and Electronic skills in the UK

The IET are conducting a research project that will evaluate the employer perspective on the supply and demand for electrical and electronic engineers in the UK, now and in the future.

This is an important piece of work that will enable the IET to capture views from across industry. The IET would like to hear the views of all employers of electronic or electrical engineers or those responsible for recruiting electrical or electronic engineers.

If you are able to help, please register your willingness to participate here

Please note the deadline for registration is Sunday 10th May.


ESCO welcomes funding for the Internet of Things

ESCO is delighted to welcome the Government’s decision, announced in the Budget, to allocate £40m to catalyse the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), described by the Chancellor as the “next stage of the information revolution”, through demonstrator programmes, business incubator space and a research hub.

This is an important demonstration of the Government’s commitment to IoT, as outlined in the Prime Ministers’ Speech at CeBIT in Hanover in March 2014, when he said ‘’I see the Internet of Things as a huge transformative development, a way of boosting productivity, of keeping us healthier, making transport more efficient, reducing energy needs, tackling climate change. We are on the brink of a new industrial revolution’’.

Warren East, Chairman of the ESCO Council said last week following the Budget announcement ‘’ESCO members have played a role in helping to shape the bid. It is a significant first step on the road to making the UK a world leader in this area. We expect that a wide range of companies and other stakeholders interested in IoT will benefit.’’

As ESCO represents many of the disparate parts of industry involved in the delivery of IoT including the physical infrastructure and many of the devices that have the potential to be linked by IoT, it is well placed to take a leading position in developing and contributing ideas on the best use of the funds.

ESCO believes that this funding will be vital to test not only IoT technology but also IoT related business models and the benefits of IoT at the same time.

techUK’s Report on Export Controls published by BIS

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has today published techUK’s report on export controls process for UK based electronic component and systems manufacturers. In response, the Export Controls Organisation (ECO) has committed to implementing change to improve the export controls environment.

Through research and discussion with electronics exporting companies, techUK identified three areas which can impact negatively on UK exporters along with the actions that can be implemented to improve business opportunities:

1.   Companies supplying components to military and other non-consumer product manufacturers both within the EU and worldwide are increasingly losing business to competitors in Europe.

2.   Where UK companies apply for licenses to export certain bespoke electronic components, the time taken for the license to be processed can far exceed the time taken to manufacture the goods.

3.   Advice and guidance, concerning the classification of products, from both the ECO and from UKTI recommended consultants, can be unclear and confusing.

All but one company surveyed stated that the current enforcement regime in the UK has a negative impact upon their export business compared to similar companies or branches of the same company located in the EU and/or USA.

In response to these findings, and following discussions with Ministers, BIS and techUK, ECO has published an interim response committing to support change in a number of areas, including:

1.   Bringing forward proposals to re-introduce a Control List Classification advice service.

2.   Examining ways to introduce improved and more flexible open licensing solutions to meet exporter requirements.

3.   Undertaking a review of End User Undertakings to determine options for ensuring UK exporters are not at an unnecessarily disadvantage.

Paul Hide, techUK Director of Operations said: “techUK welcomes the positive engagement and agreement on improvement measures as a result of the report that we produced with input from our electronics network partners. The acceptance by senior Ministers of the need for change and the support of key stakeholders within BIS and ECO can lead to a more efficient export controls process. We look forward to working with ECO and BIS to ensure that businesses can benefit from the improvement actions, as outlined in ECO’s interim report, at the earliest opportunity.”

The full report and response can be found here.

New Trailblazer Electronic Systems Degree Apprenticeship Approved

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced today that the new degree apprenticeship standard submitted by the Electronic Systems Community (ESCO) has been approved.

Permission was granted to the sector to develop a degree level apprenticeship standard, only the second one in the UK, and the process got off to a flying start with a round table meeting at No. 10 in January, led by ESCO co-chairs, Baroness Neville-Rolfe and Warren East.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe said: “I was delighted to be able to set the ball rolling with the round table. It was attended by a wide selection of industry representatives, universities, trade bodies and government officials, all lending their support, enthusiasm and input to make this initiative a success.”

Warren East observed: “The approval of this standard marks the beginning of the development of new, industry-designed training provision for the Electronic Systems sector in the UK. The standard is the first in a planned programme which will see a continuous ladder of apprenticeship provision being developed for the industry, ranging from Craft level to Masters’ level apprenticeships.”

The preferred focus for these new apprenticeship standards, is to consider the requirements for a specific job rôle and base the standard on that, with this in mind, the degree level standard is for an Embedded Electronic Systems Design and Development Engineer.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The apprentice agenda is not simply a numbers game, it is about quality as much as quantity. Degree apprenticeships bring together the very best of higher and vocational education, and allow apprentices to achieve a full bachelor’s or master’s degree, whilst training on the job. The initiative sees employers, universities, and professional bodies joining forces to develop the highly skilled workers our economy needs.”

The standard was developed by a group from industry and the resulting draft then made available for public consultation. An extremely high degree of support for the standard was demonstrated through both online surveys and letters of support.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “Degree apprenticeships are opening the door to professions such as Electronic Systems for many more young people across the country. They also play a key role in developing the high level technical skills British employers need to compete on the world stage.

“Apprenticeships provide life changing opportunities and I would like to thank ESCO for their hard work and commitment to this important initiative.”

Having gained approval, the next steps for the working group are to design assessment and grading programmes; consider the requirements for professional registration; work with universities and training providers to ensure that it can be delivered and assess the likely cost of delivery, so that the level of Government funding applicable can be determined.

The standard and the Consultation Report are available on the ESCO website:

ESCO, the Electronic Systems Community comprises senior representatives from some of the country’s leading businesses and the leading trade bodies for the UK sector. Three associations in particular have been leading on this initiative, Electronics Yorkshire, GAMBICA and NMI.

This degree level apprenticeship is being supported by: ARM; Automated Technology Group; Bae Systems; Embecosm; Emerson Process Management; FlexEnable; Frontier Silicon; Imagination Technologies; Measurement Technology; Renishaw; Schneider Electric; Selex ES; Sensium Healthcare; Thales; Toumaz, and some of the UK’s leading universities.

You can read the final version of the standard at ESCO Trailblazer Standard – Electronics Design and Development Engineer Level 6 Apprenticeship FINAL

You can read more from BIS on the recently announced Trailblazer apprenticeship approvals at 

New event to focus on Manufacturing & Engineering in the North East

Building on the success of its market-leading brands, including Works ManagementEurekaFASTMachinery and New Electronics, Findlay Media has announced the launch of Manufacturing & Engineering North East (MENE) – a completely new type of event aimed at manufacturing and engineering professionals in the North East region. 

Taking place at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle on 8th-9th July 2015, Manufacturing & Engineering North East will showcase the region’s strengths and provide a platform for the local and national manufacturers, engineers and their suppliers to meet, learn, solve problems and develop business ideas.

The event will comprise three key elements covering the full range of design, production and manufacturing:

• Keynote conference sessions from market-leading engineering and manufacturing businesses

• Focused technical workshop sessions

• An exhibition with access to market-leading suppliers

With keynotes from senior manufacturing and engineering professionals at leading brands across the aerospace, automotive, motorsport and electronics sectors, the Manufacturing & Engineering North East conference will provide delegates with powerful content spanning all areas of production, design and manufacturing management.

High quality practical workshops will also be taking place on both days within the two theatres on the show floor. The workshop sessions are free to attend and will provide best practice learning and insight into the latest engineering and manufacturing techniques. Subjects covered will range from metrology and rapid prototyping, to factory floor automation and test and measurement.

“Ultimately, the event’s most fundamental aim is to champion the manufacturing industry in the region and offer professionals in the sector a comprehensive event focusing on their needs and their needs alone. I’m very pleased to report that the response has been phenomenal, with the exhibition space now completely sold out, over five months before the event takes place,” says Findlay Media’s Executive Director, Ed Tranter.

A number of leading trade bodies and institutions have pledged their support for Manufacturing & Engineering North East, including the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), North East LEP, Gateshead & Newcastle Inward Investment and the Institution of Engineering Designers (IED).

Manufacturing & Engineering North East was created on the back of independent research and interviews with over 200 manufacturing and engineering decision makers from the North East. Registration for the event is free for all qualifying professionals and opens on 9 February


About Manufacturing & Engineering North East

Independent market research and interviews with over 200 manufacturing and engineering decision makers from the North East confirms a demand for a new type of manufacturing and engineering event. Manufacturing & Engineering North East has been created and is supported by Findlay Media’s market-leading brands Works Management, Eureka, FAST, Machinery and New Electronics to meet that demand and to champion manufacturing industry in the region.

Manufacturing & Engineering North East will showcase the North East’s strengths and provide a platform for the local and national manufacturers, engineers and their suppliers to meet, learn, solve problems and develop business. For more information, please go

About Findlay Media

For more than 35 years, the name Findlay has been synonymous with high quality brands and values that make it the UK’s number one media business in the manufacturing and design communities. Its long established core products are targeted at design, production technology and management readers across every discipline and manufacturing sector.

Findlay Media is part of the Mark Allen Group. The Mark Allen Group is a progressive media business, which delivers high-quality content through market-leading journals, magazines, books, events and websites.

For Manufacturing & Engineering North East press enquiries, contact:

Surika Biring
Events Marketing Executive

Findlay Media

Hawley Mill
Hawley Road

Dartford DA2 7TJ

Tel: +44 (0)1322 221144

For Manufacturing & Engineering North East sales enquiries, contact:

Luke Webster
Sales Director
Tel: +44 (0)7967 169154


Joe Opitz
Sales Director
Tel: +44 (0)7967 169098

ESCO Trailblazer Apprenticeships programme takes off

ESCO Trailblazer team outside Number 10

ESCO Trailblazer team outside Number 10


A significant achievement of the coalition Government has been the increasing uptake of apprenticeships driven by the success of the Trailblazer program.  However, up until very recently, apprenticeships and university placements have followed different pathways and, within an industry highly dependent on high-level skills, the Electronic Systems community has had limited engagement.

ESCO (The Electronic Systems Council) has been actively campaigning for the extension of Trailblazers to higher levels of academic attainment.  In late 2014, the Government announced the extension of the Trailblazer program to extend to Level 6 (Bachelor’s Degree) and Level 7 (Master’s) therefore enabling much broader appeal for companies focused on these higher levels of recruitment.

Following this announcement, GAMBICA and NMI have been working together under the ESCO banner to develop a Graduate Apprenticeship model.  Leading employers have been contributing and the ESCO Council convened a gathering of industrial, academic and public sector representatives who met on 23rd January in 10 Downing St to discuss taking the program forward.

Warren East, ESCO Industry Co-Chair, advised that the “Skills agenda” is the number one priority of the Electronic Systems sector; “The future of our industry is about generating new technology and systems that are more efficient, faster and more reliable than those of our competitors.  Our technologies underpin every part of the economy – digital, transport, healthcare, aerospace, robotics and driverless cars.  If the UK is to really reap the rewards of innovations in new markets, we will only do so by having the highest-quality skills available to our employers.  This is a global industry and our competitors are not holding back on investment in skills.  This meeting today, and the subsequent Trailblazer application, is central to our growth strategy for UK Electronic Systems.”

Government Co-Chair Baroness Neville-Rolfe outlined a bold ambition to get an application approved and in-place this summer with a target intake of 150 graduate apprentices this September; at least 10% of which should come from SMEs.  Judging by the commitment around the table in No. 10, the ESCO team feels this could very well be an achievable ambition.

However, there are some important milestones, the first of which is getting consultation on the proposed Apprenticeships Standards and industry commitment behind these.  The next deadline is 12th Feb and we need your input.

What exactly is being proposed?

The long-term goal of ESCO is to develop a seamless skills provision and pipeline covering all skills levels and engaging a significant proportion of industry.  However, based on our perception of employer demand, we have decided to initially focus on expanding an existing Level 2 Electronics Production Technical Operator Apprenticeship, which can be viewed here developed by Electronics Yorkshire and developing a new Level 6 Graduate Embedded Systems Design Engineering Apprenticeship, which can be viewed here covering both hardware and software-centric skills being developed by employers engaged with GAMBICA and NMI.

Trailblazers are significantly supported by government funding with £2 of public funding for every £1 of industry funding towards training.  There is a public funding cap of £18,000 for the training and education element, with additional substantial incentives for small companies; employing young apprentices; and a completion bonus.

In this process, the definition of the standard and subsequent Learning Contract and Assessment Framework is placed squarely in the hands of industry.  The starting point is a two-page standard and a group of lead employers have developed draft standards for wider consultation.

ESCO Ambitions

This program has the potential to revolutionise skills provision for the industry.  The UK is well-recognised for academic excellence and also for business innovation.  However, the UK suffers from a recognised gap between discovery and commercial exploitation; the opportunity for academia and industry to work more closely together is clear.  A graduate and Master’s Apprenticeship model provides a basis for increasing the pace of translation between the research undertaken in our universities and the commercial exploitation in our industry.

We also recognise that our industry needs to be more attractive to young people.  Building a new career pathway that combines an opportunity to develop academic excellence whilst developing real-world skills in industry and being paid along the way will be a significant attractor for young people.

Dr Graeme Philp, GAMBICA Chief Executive commented “As a former Graduate Apprentice, I personally realise the value of combining academic study with industrial application.  Within ESCO we have been working hard to enable this and we now need to see it to fruition.  Yes, there are difficulties, but we can start here and move-on to extend the apprenticeship provision to more levels and other disciplines.  The key now is industry engagement in the consultation process.”

Dr Derek Boyd, NMI Chief Executive commented “ESCO has provided the platform to influence policy and for our diverse industry to work together.  If you are one of the employers who are passionate about future skills, I now call on you to grasp the unique opportunity we have before us; we won’t get it off the ground without you.”

Employer Reaction

Several employers in the Electronic Systems sector already have existing apprenticeship models and have been sharing existing programs and best-practice.  Renishaw, GE-Aviation and BAE Systems have worked with the Trade Associations to develop a standard that we believe should be specific enough to assess against whilst leaving sufficient scope for the broad range of employers and applications that need to be included.

Reflecting the range of employers engaging in the process, Peter York, Head of Engineering Skills and Workload UK, commented “In Finmeccanica – Selex ES we face significant skills challenges around the development of world class electronic systems. We are particularly keen to see this initiative succeed as there is a pressing need to develop a pipeline of people equipped with the skills we need to create the next generation systems.”

Raeeka Yassaie, University and HR Programme Manager at Imagination Technologies commented “As a world-leading creator of semiconductor Intellectual Property, with technology shipping into billions of devices each year, Imagination is an example of the success of the UK technology industry on the world stage. Our graduate recruitment is a fundamental part of our long term growth and we believe that an industry driven graduate apprenticeship programme in engineering will be a significant and important step in addressing the serious UK skills shortage in this sector.”

However, it’s critical that these apprenticeships are inclusive of the SME community.  Andrew Robinson
Chief Executive Officer, The Automated Technology Group commented “As a fast growing SME with a long history of training apprentices, the Automated Technology Group is a strong supporter of the concept of degree level apprenticeships as envisaged under the government’s Trailblazer scheme.  It is important that undergraduates gain industry-based vocational training in their breaks from university, if they are to be able to move into rewarding roles in the industry soon after graduation.”

What happens next?

We are gaining knowledge and getting through the Trailblazer application process and it’s now at the stage that we need industry to respond.  The starting point is to seek engagement from as many companies as possible, firstly in the consultation process and, secondly, starting to consider how this would work for the companies concerned and the capacity of your company to employ young people in this model.  In the first instance we invite you to declare an interest to one of the partner organisations taking this forward and we also invite you to comment on the draft Level 2 and Level 6 standards through the questionnaires here and here.

Comments will be reflected in a revised standard to be submitted for BIS approval by 12th Feb with an announcement of acceptance expected in mid-March during National Apprenticeship week.  If you have interests in developing future graduate engineering talent we need your response by noon on the 9th Feb – don’t miss your opportunity to input.

Should you wish to get more information on the Level 2 or Level 6 Applications, you can find the relevant information on

You can also find out more information by contacting the active Trade Associations:


ESCO member COG to become IIOM

The launch of the International Institute of Obsolescence Management (IIOM) in January 2015 will take the knowledge-sharing network developed by the Component Obsolescence Group (COG) and extend support for Obsolescence Management (OM) to a wider range of industries and materials. Crucially, IIOM will also provide a defined career path and professional qualifications for practitioners of Obsolescence Management.

“Obsolescence management has changed significantly since the establishment of the Component Obsolescence Group in 1997,” explains Stuart Kelly, Chairman of COG UK and IIOM. “As a membership-based organisation, COG was created to allow defence and aerospace companies to share knowledge and expertise in managing the in-service obsolescence of electronic components in equipment which typically has an operational lifetime extending out to twenty-five years or more.”

“Now, the affects of obsolescence are being experienced by a wider range of industries, and may involve materials and software as well as mechanical, electrical and electronic components. The increased sophistication of Obsolescence Management tools and mitigation practices means that there is a growing need for a professional body to provide the best-practice guidance, training, career development and qualifications for an emerging class of professional obsolescence managers.”

In addition to corporate membership, IIOM will introduce tiered membership classes, allowing individuals from any country to progress along a defined career path in OM. The membership classes will range from Student membership, with no competence requirements, up to classes which will require members to prove their competency by completing an IIOM-approved course and passing a final examination. These classes of membership will entitle qualifying individuals to use post-nominal letters: Associate of IIOM (AIIOM): Member of IIOM (MIIOM) and Fellow of IIOM (FIIOM). The creation of this IIOM-approved career development structure has been supported by the University of Maryland in the USA and by the UK’s Cranfield University and Ministry of Defence.

To ensure compliance to the highest standards in Obsolescence Management, IIOM will establish an international network of IIOM Endorsed Trainers and Assessors Whilst the trainers will focus on developing the OM skills of individual members, IIOM’s Endorsed Assessors will audit projects and organisations for compliance against the International Obsolescence Management Standard IEC62402:2007.

IIOM’s full remit will be to:
• Advance the science and practice of Obsolescence Management (OM)
• Identify and promote best-practice and professional competence
• Provide a career development path and recognised qualifications for OM practitioners
• Generate global awareness and understanding of obsolescence and OM

Following the launch of IIOM in January 2015, the Institute plans to be fully operational by April 2016.

All existing COG members will have their membership automatically re-assigned to membership of IIOM, which will continue to host member meetings in the UK and Germany. IIOM will also host a biennial International Conference and has confirmed that this will take place in Edinburgh, Scotland, in June 2015. Full conference details of the IIOM International Conference 2015 are available here

For further information, please contact Ian Blackman at

6th Counterfeit awareness seminar agenda nearly complete

The agenda for our next counterfeit awareness seminar, which is to be held in London on 19th February, is almost complete.
We have a strong line up of speakers who will provide up to date information on all aspects of the counterfeiting problem, which will be invaluable for delegates new to the subject as well as experienced practitioners:
  • Peter Marston will provide an update of the work being done by the European Semiconductor Industry Association to combat counterfeiting
  • Peter Smeeth from the Approved Cables Initiative, will introduce the work being done by the ACI to combat the counterfeiting of cables
  • Jo Vann, a recognised authority on international standards and one of our regular speakers who always delivers a presentation that cuts through the complexity of the subject, will provide an overview of the current and planned IEC, ISO and, SAE international standards for the management of counterfeits. Jo will also provide an update on moves by various organisations to provide accreditation (‘kite marking’) against those standardsKevin Beard, President of NQA, one of the world’s leading accreditation bodies and one of the bodies introducing accreditation against standards for managing counterfeits, will introduce their services
  • Stuart Kelly from the newly formed International Institute for Obsolescence Management, will look at the link between obsolescence and counterfeiting – more than 50% of counterfeited components are obsolete – and explain how effective obsolescence management can help reduce the threat of counterfeits
  • Mark Shanley will explain, based on first hand experience Astute Electronics, how to implement and maintain a counterfeit management plan, an invaluable presentation for other distributors with concerns about counterfeits in the supply chain
  • We will hear from Thales UK how they implemented and maintain their counterfeit management plan, an invaluable presentation for OEMs thinking of developing their own plan
  • Keith Smith will introduce the recently formed Electrotechnical Market Surveillance Group, comprising ACI. BEAMA, ESCO, GAMBICA and the Lighting Industry Association, and explain what the group plans to achieve through collaboration across the wider electrotechnical industry

To book your place at this seminar please click here

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