Apprenticeships essential for metal sector, say experts

Posted on 20 May 2008 by The Manufacturer

Experts at the Metal Industry Awards have pointed to higher skills, better knowledge and more training as essential for the future of the sector. Apprenticeships, they maintain, are the key to success.

England’s 1966 World-cup winner Nobby Stiles MBE was on duty to hand out honours at the event which included two awards for the Metals Industry Apprentice of the Year as well as development grants and scholarly credits.

Addressing the event’s 200 guests, Stephen Tilsley, chief executive of Metsec, said: “Simply to sustain current business, we need apprentices to replace skilled employees who are retiring or otherwise leaving the industry. We also need them to help us keep pace with advances in technology. And we need to train more.” Mr Tilsley called for 20 per cent of the industry to be made up of ex-apprentices by 2015.

This follows initiatives recently introduced to combat a shortfall in engineering apprentices, as reported by The Manufacturer last week.

Richard Morley, president of EEF Sheffield, who sponsored awards at the event, added: “I firmly believe that engineering and manufacturing is still at the heart of wealth creation in the UK today and if we are to compete in the global market, we need people with higher skills and better knowledge than ever before.” He rejected the idea that the UK is now a post-industrial society and pointed to the credit-crunch as evidence of the frailties of a service-dependent economy.

The Metals Industry Apprentice of the Year ‘Career Development’ award went to Teri-Leigh Gillespie, 20, of Corus Engineering Steel while the ‘Craft Skills’ award was given to Craig Conlon, 21, of Metsec.