Vocational qualifications on the increase, reports Semta

Posted on 21 Jun 2011 by The Manufacturer

Figures released by sector skills council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies (Semta) show a rise in the number of higher level National / Scottish Vocational Qualifications during Q1 of 2011.

The figures show a four per cent rise in level three qualifications, and a 29% rise in level four qualifications. Semta claims that the figures show that employers are recognising the need to skill-up to higher levels in order to ensure they remain competitive and take advantage of growth opportunities.

Philip Whiteman, chief executive of Semta, said: “Our research shows that high value skills will continue to grow in importance as the UK increasingly competes in advanced manufacturing sectors, and as traditional engineering businesses become leaner and individual employees need to be multi-skilled.

“The Q1 figures reinforce the importance of Semta’s recently launched Apprentice Ambition, which seeks to demonstrate the importance of higher level skills in supporting economic growth and rebalancing the economy,” he added.

The Apprentice Ambition was launched by Semta at the House of Lords last month. It’s designed to increase the number of advanced and higher level apprenticeship registrations from 8,000 to 16,000 by 2016, by means of a ten-point plan.

Not only are apprenticeships needed to train up young people, but they are there to provide the existing workforce in the UK with new skills as well. Research from Semta shows that at the moment, 274,000 people in Semta sectors need to be upskilled to level 3 or above if the sector is to attain world-class skills levels, enabling global competitiveness.

Airbus is one large company that has benefited from the higher number of vocational qualifications in the UK workforce. Its higher level apprenticeship programme delivers the skills the company needs remain ahead of its competition. The programme involves higher apprentices attending Deeside College full-time for the first year to gain a Performing Engineering Operations NVQ Level 2 and a BTEC National Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering (Mechanical). During their second and third years, apprentices develop the skills and experience in the workplace as they work towards the Level 4 NVQ in Engineering Leadership and follow the Foundation Degree (FdEng) in Aeronautical Engineering.

Mark Stewart, HR director and general manager at Airbus, said: “Working with Semta has allowed us to develop a benchmark apprenticeship programme. Our apprenticeship scheme allows us to invest in the future and gives us a great sense of pride to see the employees we have supported through these programmes become a valuable asset of Airbus.”

George Archer