Training Supplement

Posted on 8 Feb 2011 by The Manufacturer

Produced in association with Semta, the Sector Skills Council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies in the UK.

Training makes its case

Philip Whiteman, chief executive of Semta, Sector Skills Concil for Science Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies explains why skills investment makes business sense for manufacturing.

Newly released industry data demonstrates the valuable contribution manufacturing makes to the UK economy. Semta represents 130,000 UK sites employing 1.8 million people who each add value which is well above the national average.

It’s Semta’s role to help make these companies more competitive through skills improvement — challenging of late, as the skills landscape undergoes radical change to reduce public spending. I remain confident, however, that it is achievable, what with Semta’s track record in providing solutions that provide a strong return on investment. We have, for instance, supported 6,000 companies to start business-focused training. Our Compact, which funds training priorities identified by our sector skills agreements, has created training plans with 2,000 companies — 85% of them smaller companies — who traditionally struggle to find the right training resources. Without doubt, such interventions have helped increase the number of people registering for National Vocational Qualifications: by 25% to over 100,000.

In times of change and austerity, it can be tempting to stop training. But we find that companies who use our National Skills Academy for Manufacturing productivity programmes get a 6:1 return on investment. Clearly, then, there are opportunities for manufacturers who want to see sustainable business growth.

There are many ways that Semta can help. We’re leading on simplifying the skills landscape to make it easier for employers to access high quality programmes and materials; working with partners and in clusters to ensure national standards for training delivery; and that students are more employable when they leave education. As older workers retire and emerging technologies — including composites and biotechnology — create the need for increased technical and higher level skills, we’re working with colleges and universities and creating apprenticeship frameworks that provide innovative development pathways from apprentice to degree and masters levels.

Over the course of the next few pages, we will reveal how changes may affect manufacturing, what support is available to employers and how you should go about training planning, implementation and measurement in 2011 and beyond.

Ultimately, our job is all about listening to you, the employer, understanding your skills needs and providing solutions either on an industry-wide or company basis. I welcome your feedback so keep in touch through: [email protected] or Twitter: Semta_PWhiteman


At what price?
Hard to fill vacancies are costing the UK almost £120m a year in lost productivity according to Semta. Engineering employers say that the main impacts of being unable to successfully fill these vacancies, all of which are likely to impact the bottom line profitability of businesses, are:

● loss of business
● difficulties in developing the business
● increased workload for existing workforce
● missed deadlines, and
● loss of quality of service/products and increased running costs

The government has stated that it clearly recognises the importance of manufacturing and engineering in rebalancing the economy. It is making funding available through successful sector skills councils like Semta to support skills, innovation and growth.

Semta’s chairman, Allan Cook CBE, said recently that, “Semta has a key role in ensuring UK business has the necessary skills employers need to help rebalance and stimulate the economy. The sector needs well educated, skilled, motivated people who have been suitably trained and are capable of working with today’s technology as well as with the new and emerging technologies. We need a pipeline of young talent with theoretical and practical skills to step into the gap created by those employees who, in the near future, will be retiring from industry. Working in partnership with other agencies and employers, we can ensure that employers are able to identify and address their specific skills gaps and training needs and so assist them to compete in an international market.” Semta is supporting employers to access the Regional Growth Fund, and expects the sector to benefit from the new Growth and Innovation Fund, following the success of Semta’s £100m sector Compact. The Growth and Innovation Fund will provide up to £50m co-funding a year to support employers in training and to promote workplace practices to improve development and deployment of skills. It will pilot new initiatives to increase the contribution of skills to growth in these specific sectors. It will, too, give early priority to those looking raise skills and performance through new professional standards — including occupational licensing and the uptake of apprenticeships. Semta will also be helping to shape a new employer skills pledge to suit the needs of the sector.

Semta works closely with Skills Development Scotland, DELL S in Northern Ireland and Welsh Assembly Government, and recently secured more than £1m funding from the Welsh Assembly to deliver the training manufacturing employers need. The funding, which is part of a £7m skills project to support business growth in Wales, will see Semta work in partnership with Cogent, the Sector Skills Council for Science based industries, and Proskills, the Sector Skills Council for the process and manufacturing sector, to develop new ways of training that will better support the needs of employers.

Said Semta UK operations director, Lynn Tomkins, “Semta will be supporting businesses and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, working with the National Apprenticeships Service and the Skills Funding Agency, to put manufacturing and engineering at the forefront of a rebalanced economy. We are the sector’s voice on skills across the UK and have made their priorities clear through our sector skills agreements. So our focus is on improvements in productivity and competitiveness, strategic workforce planning, technical skills and leadership, management and entrepreneurship.”


Managing for success
Semta has commissioned the design and delivery of a leadership and management programme — Managing for Success — specifically aimed at supporting managers and supervisors employed in the industry. Semta, through its National Skills Academy delivery partner, QED Consulting, has successfully delivered 8 programmes with over 100 managers and supervisors supported.

‘Managing for Success’ was designed and tested by industry experts to ensure it turned good managers in to great business leaders, so that those going through the programme would have the rights skills to supervise their teams, solve problems and make those tough everyday decisions. The programme has recently been updated to reflect the new challenges a manager from this industry now has to face, and to ensure managers working through this programme can achieve an Institute of Leadership and Management Level 5 Award.

The programme provides opportunities for return on investment for the organisations as managers are required to apply tools and techniques explored in the workshops back on the ‘shop floor’ through the completion of a work based project.

The “Managing for Success” Programme has been supported in the West Midlands area by the Iron and Steel Training Trust who provide a grant of £800 towards the programme cost.

For more information on the Managing for Success Programme, contact Semta customer services:
T: 0845 643 9001
E: [email protected]

Dynex Semiconductor Ltd improves productivity
Lincoln-based Dynex Semiconductor Ltd called upon Semta to help it improve efficiencies, drive up productivity and return to profitability.

Semta carried out a full analysis of the company’s goals, and investigated what training should be implemented to help the company achieve these ambitions. As a direct result of carrying out business improvement techniques (BI-T) training, individual staff productivity has been increased helping to double unit output in bottleneck manufacturing areas — demonstrating the role that training can play in helping to improve business performance.

Mark Kempton, Bipolar business unit manager for Dynex Semiconductor Ltd, says, “Straight away, Semta helped us to identify our training needs and worked to get us funding for our training programme before recommending us to a National Skills Academy approved training provider who delivered the training to staff.

“From the outset, the entire process was seamless.

The training was easy to implement and the business benefits have been substantial. Whilst Dynex’s significantly increased revenues cannot be solely attributed to the training, there’s no doubt that it played a significant role.” Sheila Revill, a senior operator at Dynex Semiconductors, was one of the members of staff to undertake the B-IT training. She adds, “The training gave us an opportunity to find solutions to the day-to-day challenges we face. For example, when materials stocks are running low, we now make sure we reorder promptly, helping the whole team run more smoothly. It’s all these small steps that add up to the huge efficiency improvements we have seen and for me, everyday life has become easier.”

Securing a pipeline of talent
Semta research shows that 32,000 new employees will be needed across its sectors now and 2016. A third of these need higher skills, highlighting the importance of apprenticeships in stemming the outflow of talent caused by retirements in a workforce where nearly a third is aged over 45.

Set against the backdrop of rising university fees, Semta expects that apprenticeships will have a greater role than ever before in ensuring businesses have the right skills to grow. The government’s recent skills strategy announced funds for 75,000 new adult apprenticeship places per year. Last year more than 30,000 apprentices started in engineering and manufacturing technologies; only 15% of engineering employers currently offer apprenticeships, however, so Semta’s innovative approach to apprenticeships will be critical in finding the 10,000 higher skilled employees needed each year between now and 2016.

Semta has already run programmes which stimulated apprenticeship growth, where smaller employers share apprentice workplace development or where larger companies do the initial training of more apprentices than they need to help smaller companies in their supply chain.

Government proposals outline a new system of loans for further education at Level three and above for adults from 2013-2014. This will include adult apprenticeships at Advanced Level in response to employers such as Airbus and Rolls Royce. Understanding that growth will follow if apprenticeship frameworks meet employers real needs, Semta was one of the first Sector Skills Councils to offer a Higher Apprenticeship with clear progression from Young Apprenticeships. Semta’s Higher Apprenticeship in Engineering Technology will increase the number of high-level engineering technicians and incorporated engineers by 1,000 a year in England and Wales.

Ann Watson, managing director of EAL , the UK’s leading award organisation for engineering qualifications, comments, “Every qualification we award is created after careful consultation with industry experts and with the real life needs of firms on the ground taken into account. Many top employers started as apprentices and are concerned that changes may lead to a watering down of quality. They trust EAL to deliver candidates who are fully prepared for life as skilled employees in a highly innovative industry. Semta’s apprenticeship frameworks do just that and build a transferable competence which is vital to industry standards.”

Getting return on investment from training
No sensible business decision would be taken without looking at return on investment. Training should be no different, yet only a third of manufacturing, engineering and science companies started last year with a training plan or budget.

Semta’s approach in helping individual companies is to start with business objectives and work out skills priorities that will give pay back.

Companies working with Semta’s National Skills Academy for Manufacturing have seen, on average, a 6:1 ratio of return on their skills investment.

Indeed, since its announcement in 2007, the National Skills Academy for Manufacturing has approved over 80 programmes and 500 accredited trainers and assessors who have trained 12,300 learners.

John Hayes, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, says, “The UK has a rich manufacturing heritage and the National Skills Academy for Manufacturing has a vital role to play in ensuring a prosperous future for the sector.

Through working with employers and partners, the Skills Academy has been able to support businesses in achieving real benefits, enthusing companies and workforces.” David Fox, chairman and chief executive of Power Panels Electrical Systems of Walsall, developed his company into a world beater, winning the Best Factory Award in 2005. He’s such a believer in return on skills investment that he set up PP Business Improvement, a National Skills Academy training provider. “On a recent project, it took us 30 hours of training to save 200 hours, so the return was almost 7 to 1,” says Fox. “Do that continuously and you more than pay for the cost of training. This is my strongest conviction. Training is not a cost.” The National Skills Academy offers a wider range of quality approved programmes specifically designed to deliver real benefits to individuals and their companies. There are programmes and qualifications in business improvement techniques, leadership and management, employability, health and safety, and technical skills. To support individuals there is an e-learning centre with over 1,000 courses ranging from ‘How to Make Presentations’, through to ‘Environmental Legislation and Policy’, to Six Sigma. The cost of e-learning modules starts at £5 – £10.

What does Semta do for us?
As a sector skills council, Semta is responsible for a range of sectors including: aerospace; automotive; bioscience; electrical; electronics; maintenance; marine; mathematics; mechanical; metals and engineered metal products. Its effectiveness in representing industry is underpinned by strong employer leadership with the direct support of 375 top organisations. Semta works to improve the competitiveness of these sectors through:

● Intelligence: researching skills issues

● Influence: ensuring government and education understand the skills employers need to achieve improved performance and growth including more science, technology, engineering and maths students properly prepared for work

● Infrastructure: developing industry standards, designs apprenticeship programmes and approves vocational qualifications to meet industry needs.

● Investment: helping employers across the UK find
available support funding for skills.

● Impact: supporting employers get a return on investment from training

How Semta can help you
Semta works with individual employers to identify and support their skills needs. There are four simple

1 Make an appointment with one of our sector experts

2 With Semta’s advice and guidance, create a plan which:

(a) Addresses the skills needs of the individual

(b) Identifies sources of training to meet these

(c) Helps them access any available funding to
support the training

3 Implement the plan

4 Evaluate the success of the training and consider further skills needs.

To find out how employee skills training can boost your business, contact Semta Customer Services.

Tel: 0845 643 9001
Email: [email protected]