Use savings for skills

Posted on 23 Jun 2010 by The Manufacturer

A statement from Ann Watson, Managing Director of EAL (EMTA Awards Limited), following Budget announcements on June 22.

“George Osbourne’s first Budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer was nowhere near as drastic as we had been led to expect, and has created a window of opportunity for businesses of all sizes to invest in apprenticeships and training.

“The Emergency Budget made a real push to get Britain up and working, but I wonder what mechanisms are in place to upskill the long term unemployed. If the Train-to-Gain funding is being reduced, there is nothing in place to provide the skills required to make people employable. Pledges and promises are all very well and good, but we need to have the means to make people employable as well.

“Two key policies announced could create a window of opportunity for manufacturing companies at different ends of the spectrum to invest in apprenticeships and continuous development. For the larger companies, the reduction in Corporation Tax by four pence over the next four years will free up funds which could be invested in developing the next generation of skilled workers.

“For the smaller companies, the Government’s decision to offer an NI exemption for the first 10 workers employed by an SME provides a golden opportunity for them to train apprentices and grow their own talent. SMEs have a vital role to play in training apprentices, and hopefully they will grasp this opportunity with both hands.

“The Chancellor’s pledge that manufacturing will pay less tax should, we hope, go some way to breathing life into a sector. I believe that these savings would be best invested in developing the next generation of manufacturers, so that we can continue to take the lead as one of the largest manufacturing nations in the world.

“The importance of education to this Government was underlined by the fact that this department, along with defence, was exempt from the 25 per cent cuts which all other departments will face. The Coalition clearly views investment in education as an issue on which government and industry need to work together. The Education Department’s exemption from cuts mirrors the measures the Government has put in place which encourage employers to invest in the next generation of employees. Practically and financially, we will only see a turnaround in the state of British industry government and industry work together and this Budget has established a starting point for this.”