The Surface Engineering Leadership Forum (SELF) has recently been set up by a group of individuals and companies involved in surface engineering, advanced coatings and material finishing. It includes senior representatives from industry trade bodies, research and technology organisations, professional engineering institutions, universities, and specialist manufacturers.

The aim of SELF is to ensure that the industry continues to grow and achieve a competitive advantage while improving profits during an uncertain economic future in the UK.

The group has been set up following an in-depth report produced by the SEAC (Surface Engineering and Advanced Coatings) group, which concluded that if SEAC technology is to be viewed as high value manufacturing and thrive in competitive global markets, the sector must develop its capabilities. These include better integration of the industry’s research base, supply chain and end users and the incorporation of various principles such as the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 and Lean Manufacturing®.

With a prediction that the industry will grow over the next 5 years and see a doubling of turnover, SELF wishes to encourage UK companies in the SEAC sector to develop new and current skills via continuous education and training for those that already work in the sector, as well as those looking at joining.

It would like to encourage significant emphasis on research and development, increased manufacturing capability levels, and the development of possible partnerships and co-operative ventures.

To start, SELF has designed a new Material Process Engineering Apprenticeship Standard. This will be an initial two-year apprenticeship and will cover 16 core duties, culminating in a professional qualification. One of the key areas of the standard will be the development of leadership skills to support ‘continuous professional development’ (CPD). Both the qualification and the CPD will be recognised by the whole of the surface engineering industry.

If you would like to be part of the next phase of this initiative, please give the SEA a call on 0121 237 1143, or email us at