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The Prince of Wales supports the "Best of British" in Merseyside

21st January 2013

The Prince talking to pupils from All Saints secondary school during a visit the Jaguar Land Rover Education Centre in Merseyside

The Prince talking to pupils from All Saints secondary school during a visit the Jaguar Land Rover Education Centre in Merseyside

The Prince of Wales launched a drive to get more young people into manufacturing and engineering industries today.

His Royal Highness unveiled a £2.4 million boost for Business Class, a scheme which helps successful firms work with schools in deprived areas, and a roll-out of Industrial Cadets, which helps young people get involved in manufacturing and engineering.

Speaking following a visit to the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) production plant in Halewood, Merseyside, The Prince warned that Britain is in danger of relinquishing its world class reputation if more young people are not attracted into the industries.

His Royal Highness said: "Too often it seems forgotten in this country that Britain is very good at manufacturing and has all sorts of remarkable skills of ingenuity, inventiveness and how to put brilliant ideas into production. "As a country, we are rightly proud of our industrial heritage and we should also celebrate our continued success as a standard-bearer for quality manufacturing and engineering throughout the world."

The Prince highlighted car production, quality shirt making, precision engineering and craftsmanship, adding: "Britain is a truly global leader and, of course, we have to be careful to invest in that manufacturing and creativity by ensuring the sector has access to enough talented young people with the necessary skills to help these companies grow." The Prince is carrying out a series of visits over two days to champion the "Best of British" engineering and manufacturing in the UK.

Business Class, run by the Prince's Business in the Community (BITC) charity, helps successful firms form long-term partnerships with schools in deprived communities that could benefit from their help and expertise. The new funding will help BITC meet its target to build 500 partnerships by 2015 and help over 75,000 young people. While at JLR today, he saw how the company is working in partnership with Knowsley School as part of the Business Class programme.

His Royal Highness, joined by Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, also launched Industrial Cadets, a national initiative backed by Mr Pickles's department to encourage young people to join manufacturing industries. The idea stemmed from discussions between The Prince and Tata Steel in 2010 and is being run by the education charity EDT. Industrial Cadets aims to raise aspirations for students aged 12 to 14 by building awareness of the manufacturing industry in their local area.

Earlier, The Prince arrived at JLR in a blue Jaguar XJ and was met by Mr Pickles and the company's chief executive Dr Ralf Speth. He was taken on a lengthy tour of the plant's body construction lines which produce the Land Rover Freelander and the Range Rover Evoque. Along the way The Prince stopped to chat to workers, often sharing a laugh and a joke as they took a short break from work to greet the royal visitor. The Prince even helped screw on a head lamp to an Evoque at the plant's training centre.

Paul Edwards, 57, from Crosby, Merseyside, has worked at the plant for 37 years. He said it was "very nice" to meet The Prince, adding: "He's a nice guy, very easy to talk to. "He seems like a very down-to-earth fellow and was genuinely interested in what we do here and how important this plant is for jobs in Merseyside."

The plant is one of the largest in the UK, and over the past three years JLR has trebled its workforce at Halewood and now employs over 4,500 people. The workers currently produce a car every 82 seconds. The Prince's visit marks the start of the plant's 50th anniversary celebrations. After originally manufacturing Ford vehicles, the site has been used by JLR for the last 13 years.

Matthew McLoughlin, 18, from Runcorn, Cheshire, who is in the second year of his apprenticeship, said it was "brilliant" to meet The Prince. He was one of just 20 people who were recruited by JLR out of 3,000 applications.

"It's brilliant to get recognition from people at the top with this kind of visit," said Mr McLoughlin. "The apprentice scheme at JLR is really good for people like me and I hope more people get the chance to be involved."

JLR used the royal visit to announce today that Land Rover, in a partnership with The Prince's Countryside Fund, will supply five Freelanders to support rural communities across the UK. The company will offer bursaries to five individuals or groups who can demonstrate how the use of a Freelander for a year would enable them to support their rural community.

Victoria Harris, director of The Prince's Countryside Fund, said: "The bursaries will make a real difference to five rural communities."

After leaving the JLR plant, The Prince travelled to Harrison Rods in Liverpool, a small family-run company making carbon fibre fishing rods, and ATG Access, an engineering firm in Haydock near St Helens, which designs and manufactures bollards and other road safety devices.

Tomorrow, His Royal Highness will travel to Stoke-on-Trent where he will tour Middleport Pottery, the last working Victorian pottery in the UK. Later, he will visit the headquarters of footwear manufacturers Crockett & Jones in Northampton.