Manufacturers welcome latest government skills initiatives

Posted on 22 Nov 2011

Semta, the manufacturing and engineering skills council, has announced that the latest support from the government is a boost for the industry.

Plans include a £250m fund for businesses to design, develop and purchase vocational training and a £1,500 incentive for small businesses to take on their first apprentice.

The investment in training is accompanied by government plans to make it easier to hire an apprentice. Following a flood of announcements the government has placed a heavy focus on young people taking up apprenticeships.

Philip Whiteman, chief executive of Semta, said on Friday: “We are delighted with the incentive for small businesses to take on young apprentices, and the focus on sectors where they can make the greatest impact. We are looking forward to working with the government and the National Apprenticeship Service to maximise the benefits to the economy from increased apprenticeship activity in Semta’s high value-added sectors.”

Allan Cook CBE, chairman of Atkins, SELEX Galileo and Semta, also commented: “We want to make these incentives work because SMEs make up the vast majority of the strategically important manufacturing and engineering sectors.” He added: “Whilst apprenticeship training is funded and the payback is estimated to be between two and three years, the total cost can be a barrier to hiring apprentices in the current economic climate.”

Kevin Fitzpatrick, vice president for manufacturing, Nissan in the UK, said: “In the North East we are working with Semta on a strategic plan to tackle specific skills issues. More than 1,400 recruits are needed each year between now and 2016 to cover potential retirements and growth.”

“Reports show that 2,500 employees each year need to be upskilled to meet anticipated business demands,” said Fitzpatrick, “and there needs to be a 10% increase in the number of apprenticeships starts every year. We look forward to ensuring that funding is targeted at initiatives that will make a real difference to competitiveness.”

Eugene Van Jaarsvelt, HR director at Princess Yachts, commented: “We know that investing in the right training is absolutely critical to business success – it can make a company more efficient, more productive and more profitable. With support we could increase our intake of apprentices by 50% so we are really pleased to see the Government understands the importance of training to business, and overall UK success.”

Tom Moore