ENGINEERING and manufacturing firm Siemens could create around 50 jobs in Leeds over the next five years, provided the UK continues to invest in offshore wind technology, it was revealed yesterday.
Juergen Maier, the managing director of Siemens’ UK and Ireland industry sector, made the comments as he attended a major summit to discuss the fate of manufacturing in Yorkshire.
The event, which was organised by Marketing Leeds, attracted 70 business leaders to the Ellington Building on Leeds Valley Park.
Earlier this year, Siemens invested £1.2m to transfer its mechanical drives business from Bradford to new premises in Stourton, Leeds.
Most of the site’s 54 staff transferred from the Bradford base, which Siemens had outgrown.
The move enabled the operation to handle bigger contracts, including work to support the group’s offshore wind turbine manufacturing plant in Hull. Mr Maier said yesterday: “We’ve started the operation in Leeds fairly small, it employs around 60 people. In terms of revenues and the number of people we will employ, it will at least double in size over the next five years, on the back largely of offshore wind technology.”
When asked if this would lead to more jobs, he replied: “Another 50 staff wouldn’t be out of the question, as long as the investment carries on in terms of offshore wind.”
He warned that Britain’s economy is facing a challenging period.
He added: “The next 12 months are going to be quite difficult. Things are going to slow down, there’s going to be less consumer spending coming in, which ultimately has a knock-on (effect) on manufacturing. But medium to long term, I’m very optimistic. We do need to renew and upgrade our infrastructure here in the UK. The world is consuming more because we’ve got a growing population. In the medium to long term the opportunity is great.”
Mr Maier said he believed that more young people should consider becoming engineering apprentices.
He added: “When I speak to apprentices they think they’ve made the right choice. The problem is that parents, teachers and careers advisers don’t have the right image of engineering.”
Mr Maier, who was born in Germany but grew up in Leeds, said many engineering firms were holding on to obsolete technology. He said it would make more sense to throw out old equipment and replace it with something that was more efficient.
He added: “We put a lot of money into research and development in this country but it tends to go into specific university research activities and that doesn’t often lead to the products being commercially developed here in the UK.”
Mr Maier said greater collaboration was needed between the Government and industry to develop high speed rail services and offshore wind turbines.