Large firms preach virtues of higher skills investment to SMEs

Posted on 25 Oct 2012 by Tim Brown

Advanced manufacturing leaders from big UK companies today spoke to SME manufacturers at the House of Lords about the value that investing in developing higher-level skills can bring to their workplaces.

The event, hosted by sector skills council Semta, aimed to clarify how the skills landscape in the UK is evolving with the changing needs of industry.

Richard Hamer, education director and head of early careers at BAE Systems, promoted the benefits of the advanced manufacturing and engineering higher apprenticeship, which has been developed to combine practical skills with a higher education qualification.

Jo Lopes, Head of Technical Excellence at Jaguar Land Rover talked about the innovative Advanced Skills Accreditation Scheme (ASAS) which is now providing access to flexible, modular training at Masters degree level for manufacturers across the UK.

ASAS was originally developed by JLR but has been expanded in partnership with Semta.

Andy Robinson, chief executive of Bedfordshire-based SME Automated Technology Group also spoke at the event.

His experiences demonstrated to SME peers that it is possible for companies in this size bracket to invest in higher level skills development in a structured manner which will create a reliable skills pipeline for the future.

Automated Technology Group recently opened an academy to provide structured training to both school leavers and graduates.

Semta’s UK operations director Lynn Tomkins commented on the importance of today’s knowledge sharing event saying: “It is fantastic to have three employers speaking about how the development of facilities and new qualifications is helping to address the real skills challenge we are facing. Events like today provide a fantastic opportunity for businesses of all sizes to share experiences and learn what is available to ensure [skills] targets can be met.”

Semta research indicates that industry needs to recruit and train 82,000 engineers, scientists and technicians across the UK by 2016, while 363,000 of the current technical workforce is qualified below world class standard and needs to be skilled up.