Save the lost generation

Sector skills council Semta marks 2013 as a year of opportunity for bridging industry skills gaps.

Today sector skills council Semta released its review of progress in addressing industry skills gaps in 2012 and called on employers to use 2013 as an opportunity to rescue a “lost generation”.

Semta urged employers to rationalise their skills concerns and form effective strategies to address them in the coming year. In particular it called for employers to formalise plans to take on apprentices and graduates and to form clearly expressed progression routes for these recruits.

Thanks to new funding announced in the Autumn Statement Semta emphasized that employers will have an enhanced ability to take control of the focus and quality of the training for their recruits through the Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot. This scheme now has a fund of £340 million.

£70m has already been secured by companies in Semta’s footprint of engineering and manufacturing companies. The money will be used to implement innovative skills solutions which will raise skills, create jobs, and drive enterprise and economic growth.

Commenting on the skills challenges which 2013 will hold for its sector Sarah Sillars OBE, Semta’s chief executive said: “The economy is forecast to return to growth in 2013 and Semta will be at the forefront, leading the charge on skills that provide a return on investment.”

Ms Sillars emphasized the economic importance of enhancing the UK’s engineering and manufacturing skills base saying: “Organisations in our sectors typically deliver £20,000 per employee more in Gross Value Added than the overall national average and therefore have a critical role to play in delivering economic recovery.

“In the coming year we will help tackle the “lost generation”, by showing young people and their parents and advisors the fantastic career opportunities available in manufacturing and engineering. And we will work with employers and partners to ensure that these important sectors get the funding needed to develop sustainable skills solutions.”

Semta research shows that the UK requires 82,000 scientists, engineers and technologists are needed by 2016 in order to achieve economic rebalancing and growth in line with government expectations. These recruits will be needed to reduce the impact of skills lost through retirement. There is a further need to upskill 363,000 of the current technical workforce whose qualifications are currently below world class standards.

Semta stated today that it was pleased with the progress made on bridging skills gaps in 2012. Below are some of its key achievements.

Semta’s 2012 achievements

A key focus for Semta in 2012 was to encourage companies to hire more apprentices by putting the right support mechanisms in place to enable employers to take on an apprentice more easily.

Semta is delivering on its Apprenticeship Ambition to double the number of advanced and higher apprenticeships from 8,000 to 16,000 by 2016. This will help ensure that industry has the higher skills needed to compete in value-added global markets.

Key to fulfilling the ambition is providing the frameworks needed by employers. In 2012 Semta launched the Advanced Manufacturing Engineering higher apprenticeship, developed with employers for employers. Companies, such as BAE Systems, Jaguar Land Rover, and Siemens have already recruited more than 400 apprentices to the new framework which combines practical skills with a higher education qualification.

To make it easier for employers to recruit apprentices Semta this year expanded its managed apprenticeship service to work with around 50 colleges and providers, training more than 750 apprentices. In March 2012 the Semta Apprenticeship Service was described by Ofsted as outstanding in meeting the needs of employers and providing “outstanding value for money “. The Semta Apprenticeship Service achieves 94% Employer satisfaction, 88% Apprentice satisfaction and  a 87% Completion rate compared with a 76% national average.

In addition 2012 has also seen Semta:

  • Bring to 1300 the number of women in engineering and manufacturing to benefit from the Career Advancement and Progression programme which offers women tailored training to help them reach their potential in a male dominated working environment.
  • Support more than 600 advanced manufacturing and engineering supply chain firms to produce a skills plan and invest in training programmes that will improve performance and growth.
  • Identify almost 2,700 new apprenticeship places against a March 2014 target of 4,000.
  • Launch a Graduate Development Toolkit to support the effective recruitment, development & retention of graduates into manufacturing and engineering.
  • Offer a £1,000 grant to help companies with up to 249 employees hire an unemployed graduate for at least 12 weeks
  • Start the Advanced Skills Accreditation Scheme which allows companies access to individual Master’s degree modules for employees without any pre-qualifications.