People & Skills  

Engineering & manufacturing apprenticeships on the up

The uptake for engineering and advanced manufacturing apprenticeship have increased by more than 85 percent in the past two years, reveal new figures released by Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering and advanced manufacturing
 Comments - Antony Bourne, Global Ind. Director, IFS

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The figures show that every area of England has seen significant rise in new apprentices since 2009/10, with the West Midlands leading top of the pack at 227 percent.  

Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock commented:

“Engineering is fundamental to our ambition of creating balanced growth, and these figures demonstrate the rapid progress this government has made in tackling the skills gap – a key element in supporting this sector.

“But we want to attract even more people into this rewarding profession, so we have made changes so that degree level apprenticeships will be recognised for the first time in 2013 and, together with industry, introduce 500 new Masters bursaries for Aerospace Engineering.

“We know there is more to be done to address the demand for engineers and will continue to work with key players in industry to remove barriers limiting the supply of new talent.”

Semta Chief Executive, Sarah Sillars warned that though the latest figures were encouraging, the concerns over a lost generation and missed opportunities for British business remained:

“These figures are extremely encouraging. To have 31,070 new starters in the sector in 2011/12, compared to 22,300 in 2010/11, and 16,760 in 2009/10 shows how much excellent work has been going on to meet the skills challenge by both organisations.

“These are real jobs, many paying well above the national average, with young people earning as they learn new skills.

“But we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. Engineering and manufacturing still has an image problem – we need more teachers and parents to understand apprenticeships will benefit their children and not somebody else’s.

Semta, through the UK Commission for Employment and Skills Employer Investment Fund, has targeted those employers who have never recruited an apprentice the last 12 months; supported by media campaigns, Sector Strategy Groups, Regional Council and the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).  

NAS’ Chief Executive, David Way said the Service, working alongside Semta, is committed to “double the number of Advanced and Higher Level Apprenticeships for the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector by 2015/16.”

“Engineering apprenticeships set the standard for high quality apprenticeships. They provide our leading companies with essential skills and provide great careers for young men and women. Some of our best award-winning apprentices have been produced by the sector.”

Sillars concluded:

“The sector needs to recruit 82,000 people just to cover retirements up to 2016, so there is a real opportunity for young people; so much more needs to be done to attract into engineering and advanced manufacturing.

“Companies need to understand an apprentice may not always contribute towards a business in year one, but in years two, three and four; making a contribution by becoming a valued, loyal employee, earning money and providing home-grown skills.”

Semta is encouraging firms of all sizes to get in touch for help to access funding, quality training providers and a suite of tools designed to give a return on their investment.

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