Reverse of the 'brain drain' as more people move to Yorkshire to boost skills in manufacturing, says new Education Secretary

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson. 'Picture by Scott Merrylees.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson. 'Picture by Scott Merrylees.

Yorkshire’s “world-leading” research and innovation centres are encouraging more people to move to the region, according to the newly-appointed Education Secretary.

Gavin Williamson, who is from Scarborough, said he had noticed a reverse in the "brain drain" to the south, as a result of pioneering facilities such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield.

He said people were now choosing to stay in the region and an increasing number were relocating to Yorkshire to take advantage of a new wave of opportunities that are being created in high-value manufacturing sectors.

He said: "Job growth and opportunity, that’s happening here in Yorkshire.

"We should feel very proud of the AMRC. It can change lives by creating wealth and employment.

"You can achieve absolutely everything - you can get training and have a great career. You don’t have to leave Yorkshire to get this.

"Facilities such as the AMRC bring people here to Yorkshire and you can have a really amazing quality of life."

Mr Williamson visited the centre, which is part of the University of Sheffield, yesterday, where he took a tour of Factory 2050, the UK’s first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing facility for collaborative research.

The Education Secretary met with employers and apprentices to discuss how the facility is helping to boost skills and jobs across the region.

He said: "It’s great to have a chance to visit the AMRC. This is something that is truly world-leading. It is not just about skills, it’s about how we drive the new frontiers in science and technology. Instead of being within the walls of a university, it is making it real and relevant to businesses.

Professor Keith Ridgway and businessman Adrian Allen launched the AMRC in 2001 as a £15m collaboration between The University of Sheffield and aerospace giant Boeing, with support from Yorkshire Forward and the European Regional Development Fund.

Mr Williamson said: “If we didn’t have this facility here, Boeing wouldn’t have made the decision to invest here in Sheffield. It is only the second investment Boeing has made in a manufacturing facility outside the USA.

"It is not just Boeing, but also McLaren and Rolls-Royce. That is down to the Sheffield being able to demonstrate working with lots of partners and the amazing work the University of Sheffield has been doing. It’s demonstrating how to create a skilled workforce."

Mr Williamson was appointed as the Education Secretary in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle on July 24, replacing Damian Hinds.

In one of his first interviews since his appointment, he told The Yorkshire Post that he loved returning to the Yorkshire Coast for holidays with his family.

Mr Williamson was educated in Scarborough, at East Ayton Primary School, followed by Raincliffe School, a state comprehensive, and then Scarborough Sixth Form College, before going on to study at the University of Bradford.

Referring to his education in Yorkshire, he said: “I very much hope I am able to put something back into something I got so much from.

"I’m going to give my absolute all to make sure I do the very best for all those who look to education to get the best out of their lives.”