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Emma Bridgewater warns of UK skills crisis

Renowned British ceramicist, Emma Bridgewater, has warned that the UK is facing a skills crisis in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph.

 

Bridgewater, who has been cited by Prime Minister Theresa May as an example of how British businesses will thrive post-Brexit, pointed out that many vocational courses based on manufacturing are “evaporating”, while higher education institutes focus on attracting foreign students.

The legendary designer-maker, who runs one of the biggest wholly British ceramics manufacturing businesses, has become a champion for British industry but says she is “not interested in protectionism”.

She nevertheless urges others in her industry, as well as government and education, to tackle the skills gap and ensure we can equip future generations with the sort of skills and education that will enable the manufacturing sector to thrive.

The Government, she said, has not thought deeply enough about the consequences of “turning its back” on manufacturing, putting this down to “snobbery and a group forgetting about where we have come from.” The problem extends to schools, which she says “need to sort out what we are doing about practical education. We’ve lost track of how to envisage and project practical careers.”

Bridgewater, who set up her business in 1985, emphasises the importance of enthusing schoolchildren about manufacturing and frequently welcomes children on tours of her own factory premises in Stoke on Trent. She successfully licenses her designs onto a wide variety of other products for British and overseas markets.