Michael Straughan is a Member of the Board for Manufacturing at Bentley Motors Ltd
This afternoon it will be a great pleasure to welcome members of the EEF Main Board and members of the media to our famous headquarters in Crewe, as part of Manufacturing Week at the International Festival of Business over in Liverpool. I hope that they enjoy their tour and will leave with an appreciation of the fine craftsmanship that goes into each car we produce.
Last year was a record year for Bentley in terms of volume and profit. It was hard work but the spirit within the company was incredible, from a personal perspective it was one of the most enjoyable periods in my 30 year association with the automotive industry.
There is no doubt that recent success for Bentley has brought new confidence to the company, and this is reflected in our parent company, the Volkswagen Group's decision to place its faith in Crewe with the announcement of an £800m investment to build the world's first luxury SUV.
Securing the SUV was the result of hard work from all involved, and moving forward, it's important that we don't get complacent. It proved that there is a strong case for manufacturing in the UK, particularly given its competence for traditional skills, critical for us here in Crewe and something we are working hard on to make sure is passed down through generations.
At Bentley we have re-designed our approach for manufacturing apprentices. This includes the introduction of dual education; a more tailored method to vocational training based on competence profiles related to specific job roles.
At school level, Bentley is supporting the application for a University Technical College in Crewe. We believe the key strength of the UTC format is that it allows businesses such as ourselves to help design the curriculum ensuring that we are giving young people the skills we know they need to succeed in the work environment.
Bentley is the most sought after luxury car brand in the world, a feat I believe is indicative of the world class automotive industry we have here in the UK.