Manufacturers call for fast-track apprenticeships

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Manufacturers in the south west are urging Government to clarify the funding for vital skills programmes beyond the end of this year – and to put in place a fast track process for addressing future skills requirements.

EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, fears that mounting uncertainty about Government-funded training budgets could undermine future employee training, including engineering apprenticeship programmes.

Martin Marron, Managing Director of Contico Europe in Redruth, said that the lack of suitably qualified engineers was of increasing concern.

“We simply do not have the number of young people coming through with the engineering skills that we as a company need to compensate for what is generally an ageing workforce,” he commented. “Not only do we need greater certainty over funding for key programmes such as apprenticeships, we also need Government to provide support for a more flexible approach that can take existing employees with the basic skills set and raise their engineering ability through additional training.

“Apprentice programmes can take five years or more to complete – we need ways of plugging the skills gap now, otherwise manufacturers in the south west will continue to struggle to attract the engineering talent they need.and this could affect their long term viability.”

According to an EEF survey, 55% of manufacturers are concerned about their ability to attract and retain skilled employees in preparation for the upturn.

Commenting on the current situation, Clive Turner, External Affairs Advisor for EEF South West Region, said: “Companies need a clear commitment that Government is going to maintain funding for vital training programmes in future years because manufacturers need to take a long term view of their skills and training requirements.”

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