PATRON members of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry visited Jaguar to see how the luxury car maker is thriving.
They toured the company’s plant at Castle Bromwich in the West Midlands to draw inspiration from a successful British manufacturer which values apprenticeships.
Chamber chief executive Ian Girling said: “We have some great manufacturing and engineering firms in the county and we felt that insight would be gained with a first-hand visit to this iconic brand.
“Jaguar places great store in its apprentices in a way that we should do more of here in Dorset, bringing on the next generation of designers and engineers and developing strong British products which are the envy of the world.
“We came away inspired by the way Jaguar does everything, from meticulous attention to detail and quality assurance to lean manufacturing, posture-friendly ergonomics and a positive culture exemplified by factory floor signs which state: ‘Don’t waste ideas – tell someone!’ “One of our roles now will be to share that passion with as many of our 703 members as possible.”
He added: “It is estimated that it costs £900m just to set up a production line to make the first car – and that’s before you’re even sure there is bankable demand.
“The skills of apprentices are therefore paramount in making these kinds of investment work in the long run.”
Jaguar produces 145,000 bespoke performance cars a year.
Half are exported to the USA, while China – which imported none four years ago – takes 18 per cent and rising.
Mr Girling said: “The Chinese market, with 1.4 billion people and increasing affluence, means there are opportunities for DCCI members, ones we can help them explore strategically.”
Jaguar’s 110-acre plant, where Spitfires and Lancaster Bombers were built in the Second World War, has 3,000 employees, supporting a further 7,000 jobs in the supply chain.