UK Government Earmarks £30m To Boost Engineering Skills And Jobs

The UK government will invest £30 million in the country’s engineering sector, Matthew ATG_engineer_190614Hancock, Skills and Enterprise Minister, has just announced. The money will go towards increasing the supply of engineers, inspiring women to join the sector and eliminating skills shortages in small engineering businesses.

One third of the overall sum will be allocated to the “Developing Women Engineers” initiative. Another £10 million will be invested in “Improving Engineering Careers” and the remaining £10 million will be used to help small businesses to cultivate the talents they need.

Engineering skills are essential for the UK economy, in the words of Hancock. In order to stay competitive on a global level the UK will need a good supply of skilled engineers. The minister believes that by investing in the workforce and by encouraging women to join engineering, the industry will be able to unleash its full potential.

The initiatives are supported by more than 170 major organisations from business, education and the third sector. The investment is expected to create around 2,000 job opportunities. The aim is to ensure diversity in the workforce and attract additional talent for jobs related to science, technology, engineering and maths.

Nicky Morgan, Minister for Women, said she was pleased with the £10 million “Developing Women Engineers” project. Morgan thinks that beliefs about engineering being a man’s job belong in the past. Without women, the size of the talent pool available to engineering companies is drastically reduced, she said.

Skills shortages are a major problem that challenges many companies within the engineering sector, according to manufacturing organisation EEF’s chief executive Terry Scuoler. Companies are doing their best to develop their current and future employees and this investment will encourage them to adopt innovative solutions which will provide them with the skills and talents required, according to Scuoler.

 

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New Toolkit To Help Companies Recruit Disabled Apprentices

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has introduced a web-based toolkit that aims to facilitate access to apprenticeships for disabled people.ATG_wheelchair_210513 Announcing the news on its website, the Skills Funding Agency noted that the toolkit would also deliver substantial benefits for employers, helping them find skilled and dedicated employees.

The toolkit, developed on behalf of the Skills Funding Agency, demonstrates how employers can open their apprenticeship programmes to disabled candidates. This can be achieved through simple and low-cost steps, including action in areas such as recruitment and support. The project is supported by companies and organisations such as Barclays Bank, Tottenham Hotspur FC, the National Theatre, Novartis plc, Leicester City Council and Luton and Dunstable Hospital. All of these employers have experience in hiring disabled apprentices and each of them highlighted the immense contribution of these workers to their business.

Sue Husband, the newly appointed apprenticeship and service delivery director at the Skills Funding Agency, has made it one of her top priorities to promote engagement with businesses and employer groups in order to boost apprenticeship and traineeship uptake. This strategy also gives a prominent place to disabled apprentices. According to Husband, the creation of this toolkit was largely driven by the belief that employers would greatly benefit from it.

The UK currently has more than 11 million disabled people and almost six million of them are individuals of working age. When companies hire and support disabled people, they greatly boost their access to talented apprentices. As research has revealed, the average apprenticeship adds £214 per week to business productivity, the gains coming from improved profitability, lower prices and better products.

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Apprenticeships And Skills: Employers Speak Out

Apprenticeships have proved to be major career boosters in highly specialised sectors ATG_engineering_290514such as engineering and aerospace. Many of the current senior managers at such firms started out as apprentices. The unique combination of hands-on work and theoretical knowledge proves to be extremely helpful for personal development and success, the Guardian writes citing BAE Systems education director Richard Hamer.

It is particularly difficult for manufacturing companies to secure the employees they need, Hamer notes. Therefore, an apprenticeship is the perfect way to nurture the talent you require from the very beginning, he adds.

Having realised the importance and positive outcomes of apprenticeships, companies are working together to set vocational training standards that reflect the specific needs of their industry. These sector groups, which have been called Trailblazers, are part of the apprenticeship system reforms the UK government introduced in 2013.

In addition to industry-specific skills, Trailblazers also place great importance on the basic skills employers say they badly need. These include English, maths, IT and verbal communication. Companies are very concerned with the lack of basic skills but acquiring them is much more effective in a working environment, according to Federation of Small Businesses policy director Mick Cherry. Vocational and academic know-how are equally important and it has become clear that apprenticeships can also lay the foundations for career success, Cherry points out.

More and more young people are opting for the vocational route if presented with the choice of a quality apprenticeship, according to PwC student recruitment chief Richard Irwin. Moreover, employers are coming to realise there is no longer any point in juxtaposing university and apprenticeships. It all boils down to the career path a young person wants to pursue, Irwin adds.

 

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UK Logistics Sector Turns To Staff Training Amid Persistent Skills Shortage

Logistics is indispensable for operations in every economic sector. In the UK, 2.2 millionATG_scanner_220514 people are employed in the logistics business, which amounts to 8% of the workforce. However, the sector will need another 588,000 workers during the next six years and this will present a massive challenge for UK logistics companies. Their biggest problem is recruitment and retention, which is further exacerbated by the fact that employers cannot find people with the necessary skills. They are trying to address the issue through staff training, both on and off the job, but that in itself represents yet another challenge.

These are among the key findings of the 2014 sector report produced by Skills for Logistics (SfL). The serious shortage of skilled workers is underscored by the fact of 75% of the companies polled said they had provided training for their staff. This has led to a number of business benefits, with 80% reporting improved productivity, greater efficiency and stronger staff motivation. However, skills development is also proving a challenge, mainly due to lack of time, government legislation and insufficient funding.

Given the need for significant future expansion of the logistics workforce, employers were asked to identify the factors most likely to affect training requirements in the next few years. The list included legislative changes, the need for more sustainable work practices and technological innovations. According to more than three quarters of the survey respondents, the focus in the year ahead should fall on developing job-specific skills within the workforce. Other skills that urgently require improvement are communication, organisational and planning skills, SfL established.

 

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Middle Ages To Modern Days: Apprenticeships Have Endured For Good Reason

Industries like engineering and IT have repeatedly raised the alarm on skill shortages, ATG_apprentice_200514which has further stoked efforts to revitalise the apprenticeship system. Given the attention they have received in the past few years, apprenticeships may appear to some people to be a modern invention but the truth is that they have been around since the Middle Ages. This goes to show that the importance of vocational training was acknowledged centuries ago and the practice has endured because of its benefits for both parties. The Daily Gazette has combed through the latest research results to compile a list of what makes apprenticeships so important.

From an employer’s perspective, there are several major benefits. According to 96% of companies with apprenticeship programmes, having trainees on the team boosts morale, improves retention rates and brings new ideas. Moreover, 72% of employers report that apprenticeships help increase productivity. For the UK economy as a whole, apprenticeship completions are expected to deliver productivity gains amounting to £3.4 billion within a decade.

But there would not be such a keen interest on the part of young people if apprenticeships did not benefit them as well. The most important advantage they get is employability: 86% of apprentices secure a job after completing their training, with 67% getting a permanent position at the company that has trained them. There is also the benefit of earning good money while learning the tricks of the trade: many employers pay their apprentices more than the required minimum (currently £2.68 an hour). And with more companies waking up to the importance of on-the-job training, young people can now embark on a career in virtually any sector: their choice encompasses over 250 different types of apprenticeships.

 

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New Report Delves Into Familiar Issue: Engineering Skills Shortage

The manufacturing sector is a critical part of the UK economy but the shortage ofATG_engineers_130514 engineering skills is a serious threat to its future growth, according to a new report from industry alliance Engineering The Future. This is the latest in a string of publications to raise the alarm over this issue and it notes that manufacturing companies have embraced apprenticeships as a means of addressing their skill needs.

Engineering The Future speaks on behalf of 450,000 UK engineers and virtually all of them agree that the shortage of skilled workers is a key problem for the sector. Members have repeatedly raised concerns about the quality and quantity of engineering graduates and skilled technicians. These concerns have prompted them to call on the government and academic institutions for improvement on both counts.

The report, titled “An Insight into Modern Manufacturing,” points out that problems in the education system have led many manufacturing companies to embrace apprenticeships. Organisations have maintained investment in vocational training programmes even when economic conditions have squeezed their financial resources. This commitment is attributed to the fact that apprenticeships have allowed manufacturing enterprises to produce high-quality workers and ensure their future talent supply.

Engineering The Future also notes that sector operators typically rely on themselves but this can sometimes have negative consequences: such strong self-reliance prevents the government from identifying areas where it can provide support. The report also highlights the fact that the manufacturing industry requires long-term planning so any state intervention or investment needs to be undertaken with the long view in mind.

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Government Allocates Another £25m For Skills Training Support

Recognising the critical importance of skills development, the UK government is ATG_skills_080514providing an extra £25 million to help companies improve training, both for new and existing employees.

The additional funds were announced by Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock during his recent speech at a UK Commission for Employment and Skills Investment Showcase. The major winner this time is the automotive sector supply chain, which will get £20 million of the total. The remaining £5.2 million has been allocated to the latest group of successful bidders under the Employer Ownership Pilot (EOP).

The money provided to the automotive sector supply chain will allow companies to invest more in training and thus ensure they have the skilled workforce to address their specific needs. Companies can apply for funding by submitting their proposals over the next 12 weeks.

Commenting on the fresh funds, Hancock said that the government was aiming to narrow the gap between employment and education so as to promote skills development. The new fund is a flexible solution designed to help companies in the automotive supply chain train people in the skills the sector requires. This is critical for capitalising on growth opportunities and paving the way for long-term growth in the sector, Hancock added.

The minister also highlighted the contribution of the EOP scheme, which is another effort to help UK companies develop their skill bases. The strength of this initiative lies in the deep involvement of employers: they supplement government funding with their own money and develop their own training programmes. In this way, employers are able to address the shortage of specialist sector skills and make the best use of their training funds, Hancock said.

 

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UK Apprentices Get Their Own Support Platform

Apprenticeships have garnered much attention in the past few years, becoming a focal ATG_apprentices_010514point for the government in its efforts to combat youth unemployment and promote skills development. But while employers and training providers are spreading the message through their professional organisations, apprentices have so far lacked their own platform for support and representation. This has changed with the launch of the National Society of Apprentices (NSA).

The newly created organisation has already attracted as members over 100 employers, training providers and colleges in addition to more than 100,000 apprentices.

Siobhan Knott, member of the NSA interim leadership team, said that the national society constituted a major step towards raising the profile of apprentices and ensuring they get the respect they deserve. Through the Apprentice Exchange group and forum, young Britons in vocational training can make new acquaintances, swap ideas and make their voices heard. The NSA provides the sense of community apprentices across the country have lacked so far, Knott added.

As Not Going To Uni reports, the NSA came into existence in February. It was created with the aim of supporting apprentices, giving their views national representation and promoting apprentice rights. The society also intends to shine a light on apprentices’ contribution to their communities.

The NSA has been around for only a short time but it has already championed several important initiatives. In Northern Ireland it helped apprentices get together with decision-makers and discuss their future vision for apprenticeships. In Wales it supported the launch of a research project dealing with trainee travel costs. In addition, the NSA organised a trip to Finland for apprentices from Leeds and Doncaster, providing them with opportunity to see how the Nordic country’s apprenticeship system works.

 

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Report Calls For Apprenticeship Issues In Service Sector To Be Addressed

Apprenticeships are essential for combating youth unemployment and helping the UKATG_engineer_240414 build a strong talent base for the future. The government has initiated a series of reforms to improve the apprenticeship system but priority is being given to solving quality issues and raising standards in sectors with acute skill shortages, for example aerospace, automotive and life sciences. This is definitely a positive development but since the UK economy is predominantly service-based, more attention should be given to improvements in service industries.

This is one of the key recommendations made in a new report from The Work Foundation. In an article for the HR Director website, author Katy Jones outlined the major issues addressed in the policy paper. It welcomes the launch of the Trailblazer pilots as a way to give employers the lead in apprenticeship programme development but also calls for the inclusion of more service industries amongst the Trailblazers. Skill shortages may not be as acute in health and social care, business administration and customer service but these are sectors providing the largest number of employment and apprenticeship opportunities to young Britons.

As Jones pointed out, the service sector is the one typically fighting the hardest battle with issues related to apprenticeship quality, educational content and duration. This presents a significant problem because the UK economy is driven by services: the sector provides 85% of UK jobs and is the first destination for most young people entering the labour market. Moreover, the service sector creates the largest number of apprenticeship positions: eight of the top ten industries by apprentice recruitment in 2011/2012 were service industries, with business administration and customer service among them. It is therefore very important to raise apprenticeship standards in the sector, Jones noted.

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Why An Apprenticeship Is Worth The Effort

More and more young Britons are coming to realise that a university degree is no longerATG_electrical_150414 a prerequisite for professional success. In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated that this is clearly not the case. Apprenticeships have proved themselves an excellent route to career progression and the government wants to make them the norm for school leavers who decide against academic pursuits. The problem is that access to apprenticeship information leaves a lot to be desired so many youngsters may be missing out on a great opportunity. For those still unsure how an apprenticeship can benefit them, Not Going To Uni recently presented the most important statistics on the subject.

First of all, potential apprenticeship candidates can expect fully funded training if they are aged 16 to 18. They are also entitled to a minimum hourly pay rate of £2.68 and many employers offer higher wages. According to the Apprenticeship Pay Survey, apprentices get £212 net per week on average. Moreover, an apprenticeship will add an extra £100,000 to a person’s lifetime earnings.

There are about 250 different types of apprenticeships young Britons can choose from, mastering both the theoretical and practical aspects of their chosen profession through learning on the job. Successful completion of the training programme can even open the door to a university degree without the associated debt because employers typically cover those costs. And the chances of securing a job are excellent: up to 95% of apprentices remain employed by the company that recruited them for training. This is hardly surprising since 96% of enterprises report that apprenticeships boost their business.

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