Ms Sillars is currently executive chair of the Institute of the Motor Industry. She will take on her new role part time in October this year and full time from January 2013.
Sillars’ concerted efforts to build skills for the UK retail motor industry led to her receiving an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2008. Semta chairman Allan Cook CBE, who is also chairman of WS Atkins and Selex Galileo and deputy chairman of Marshalls Group said: “We are delighted that Sarah has agreed to lead Semta, bringing with her such extensive experience and success within the skills arena.”
Mr Cook said that the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector now faces a critical moment as it struggles to grow in the face of challenges in domestic and international markets.
“Opportunities for growth are highly dependent on the development of the necessary skills in our businesses. Sarah’s leadership skills will be critical in achieving our ambitious plans,” he said.
The incoming CEO confirmed that she was delighted to be joining Semta at such an important time for its sectors. “We are in a changing skills landscape where employers have the opportunity to shape provision and co-invest in the design and delivery of vocational training,” she stated.
Semta attends to the skills needs of around 132,000 manufacturing and engineering companies in the UK and Sillars asserted that “Semta is well-positioned, with strong employer backing, to make a real difference to the sector’s productivity and competitiveness with a range of targeted services and programmes.”
Sillars takes over from Philip Whiteman who retired from his role at the end of May this year. The interim CEO is Dr Dolores Byrne OBE, former managing director innovation at UK-based defence firm QinetiQ.