Op Ed: Discover the vision to build a modern West Yorkshire

Building a modern West Yorkshire, an Op Ed piece written by Aaron Holt, CEO, Holdson Ltd on behalf of West Yorkshire Business Board. This is paid for editorial and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Yorkshire Post.

West Yorkshire can readily lay claim to having built the modern world. Our industrial heritage is writ large across the region, in the countless factories and mills that powered the industrial revolution and shaped the towns and cities that we call home.

But we’re not content to look back to the past. The modern manufacturing and engineering sector can tackle many challenges our world faces today, while creating a skilled workforce that enables good livelihoods.

I’m a living example of what a career in manufacturing can achieve with the right skills and support. Born and raised in Kirklees, I dropped out of college aged 16. I went into an engineering apprenticeship at a small local business, and from there to Huddersfield University in 2009.

Fast forward to 2014, I remortgaged my house to set up Holtex, offering high precision engineering, in addition to consultancy and design support. We developed a revolutionary new post-processing technology for the 3D printing of metal, with applications in the automotive, aerospace, medical and energy sectors, and established Holdson in April 2023 to further develop and commercialise this.

In the automotive sector alone, our technology could deliver CO2 reductions equivalent to a car driving round the Earth’s equator more than 32 million times during its lifetime.

A large part of this success has been our ability to bring young people in through an apprenticeship scheme run by us on site and equip them with the skills we need to solve problems. It now acts as a pipeline for talent across different sectors and industries.

Both businesses have global reach and importance and are proudly based in Huddersfield. We’re making a real difference to some of the most pressing issues the world faces, while supporting our community with jobs, training, and opportunities.

That’s why I am proud to be one of the members of the West Yorkshire Business Board, set up by Mayor Tracy Brabin to champion the voice of business and boost economic growth and innovation in the region.

West Yorkshire is home to almost 100,000 businesses. Our role is to make sure they are able to access the support and opportunities they need to thrive, and the voices of business are heard by our region’s policymakers and leaders.

The Business Board brings together members from the manufacturing, professional services, arts, technology and digital sectors, alongside community leaders, universities, business representative groups and the leaders of the five West Yorkshire local authorities. What unites us all is a passion for our region, and a shared goal in seeing West Yorkshire succeed.

We have immense talent and world-class innovation, but we know there is more we need to do to boost skills further. This includes putting sustainability at the centre of processes and striving to improve productivity.

Over the coming months, the West Yorkshire Business Board will help shape a forthcoming economic strategy for the region and provide input on the Mayor’s business support and skills schemes.

These are at the heart of the Mayor’s vision for West Yorkshire. It’s only by tackling them together that we can deliver the kind of economic growth that spreads opportunities and gives everyone the chance to benefit from our prosperity.

Find out more about the West Yorkshire Business Board and how it is bringing together business and Council Leaders to drive forward the Mayor's pledge to champion the regional economy here.

Aaron Holt, CEO, Holdson Ltd