UK battery industry boosted by initiatives worth £3.2 million

The Faraday Battery Challenge (FBC) has appointed three leading universities to share £3.2 million in funding and support the UK’s regional battery sectors.

Coventry University, University College Birmingham and Newcastle University share funding to support regional battery sectors, workforce development and the UK’s transition to electrification.

The universities will support the UK’s regional battery sectors in identifying and addressing their skills needs to ensure the UK elevates its transition to electrification and remains a global industry leader.

FBC is delivered by Innovate UK as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Unlocking the potential of electrification skills

FBC has awarded £700,000 to Coventry University to lead a consortium that will deliver the National Electrifications Skills Forum and Framework (NESFF).

University College Birmingham and Newcastle University have been appointed to share £2.5 million to deliver the Battery Workforce Training Initiative in their respective regions.

Tony Harper, Challenge Director for FBC, said:

As the UK ramps up its electrification transition the Faraday Battery Challenge recognised there are skills challenges needing to be addressed to meet the UK’s net zero commitments.

With the right partners, these new support initiatives will unlock and accelerate the skills development of the national and regional workforces and ensure the UK keeps its edge as new technologies skills gaps are identified.

Empowering the battery workforce

The Battery Workforce Training Initiative is designed to support the UK’s growing regional battery industries.

The initiative will help awarded partners deliver innovative vocational and technical training that bolsters local workforces with enhanced skills, diversity and qualifications.

With £1.2 million in funding, starting from October, University College Birmingham will lead a regional partnership that will deliver a training programme aimed at supporting the local workforce with skills development.

The ‘Digital Enhanced Battery Ubiquitous Training-West Midlands’ (DEBUT-WM) project will bring together academic, industry and government experts.

The project will deliver the programme via a blend of traditional physical training alongside advanced immersive digital technologies such as augmented, virtual and mixed reality.

Sustainable training model

Rosa Wells, Executive Dean of the School of Engineering, Digital and Sustainable Construction at University College Birmingham and project lead, added:

This project is vital in supporting our region as well as contributing towards the wider net zero ambitions.

As a university, we are in a unique position to lead this project, providing a sustainable training model that meets the needs of learners, employers, wider industry and our region.

Newcastle University will apply its £1.3 million funding to support its ‘National Battery Training and Skills Academy’.

The academy will support and engage those in the north-east with education and skills initiatives, retraining schemes and battery degree apprenticeships.

Expanded training capacity and capability

Professor Colin Herron from Newcastle University’s School of Engineering said:

The North-east hosts the UK’s only lithium-ion battery plant and with the real possibility of a second battery company opening in the future, there is a clear need for expanded workforce training capacity and capability.

What is unique about our programme is that battery awareness will be brought to the general public and many thousands of school children by bringing the training capabilities of New College Durham, the public sector and Newcastle University together.

A unified vision for electrification skills

In collaboration with Enginuity, Warwick Manufacturing Group and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC), the University of Coventry will lead the NESFF consortium.

NESFF’s vision is to ensure that the national workforce has the necessary skills and development to effectively deploy electrification technologies and help the country meet its net zero commitments.

Identifying these skills needs and a framework for delivery, as well as encouraging greater workforce inclusion and diversity, are priorities for the independent consortium.

The consortium will work closely with the Innovate UK Workforce Foresighting Hub and its members, and other local and national bodies.

The consortium will ensure that future skills development will meet the needs of rapidly emerging net zero technologies and help position the UK as a global electrification leader.

A coordinated effort

Deepak Farmah, Head of Innovation at Coventry University (Commercial Director, Electric Revolution Skills Hub (ERS Hub)), said:

The electrification market is growing rapidly, and we are excited to take the lead in defining the necessary skills for its present and future needs.

Our approach of collaborating with national partners and stakeholders remains essential to ensure that the results are inclusive and impactful, benefiting the entire ecosystem by gathering new and existing research into a single dynamic source.

Funded by the UKRI’s Driving electric revolution challenge, and developed by Coventry University, the ERS Hub is an online platform.

The hub connects learners, skills providers, and employers in electrification, leveraging existing resources and expertise to create a unified approach to electrification skills development.

It fosters collaboration, inclusivity, and diversity within the electrification skills ecosystem, ensuring it is robust and interconnected.

Dynamic source of research and expertise

The ERS Hub serves as a dynamic source of research and expertise, consolidating efforts towards an electrified future.

The ERS Hub, in synergy with the Battery Workforce Training Initiative and NESFF, forms a comprehensive framework for electrification skills development.

It bridges gaps, fosters collaboration, and promotes diversity within the electrification workforce.

By gathering and consolidating research, the ERS Hub ensures that the skills ecosystem remains adaptable and responsive to the evolving electrification landscape, thereby enhancing the overall impact of these initiatives.

These initiatives align seamlessly with the broader regional skills strategy, creating a comprehensive framework that ensures the UK’s workforce is ready to embrace the electrified future.

Full government announcement: Over £50 million awarded to cutting edge manufacturing projects.

Further information

About FBC

FBC, delivered by Innovate UK, is a £541 million UKRI Challenge Fund investment.

The challenge delivers a mission-led, research and innovation programme that covers ‘Lab to Factory’ development, cutting-edge research, national scale-up infrastructure, and skills and training.

FBC seeks to address market failures in road transport decarbonisation and to attract investors to the UK’s battery industry.

We are building an ecosystem that supports industry growth and ensures UK prosperity by leveraging scientific strength, with our delivery partners:

  • Faraday Institution
  • Innovate UK

Top image:  Credit: katleho Seisa, E+ via Getty Images

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