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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Scottish Skills Alliance aims to upskill workforces

Leading industrialists from across Scotland have launched a new group to boost apprenticeships in the manufacturing sector.

The Forum for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Skills (FAMES) is aiming to significantly increase the number of apprentices recruited in the sector this year while also taking on more graduates and up-skilling existing workforces.

The group will be made up of representatives from champion employers, business membership organisations, training providers and key stakeholders, who have joined forces to speak with one voice on the issue.

FAMES is being coordinated by Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies, with the aim of giving Scotland a stronger voice to provide an integrated way of developing demand-led solutions to skill issues.

Minister for Youth Employment Angela Constance said: "Our young people have much to offer every sector in the Scottish economy and advanced manufacturing and engineering are no different. Our challenge is to help our young people, from all backgrounds and capabilities, make the most of their talents, but we cannot meet this challenge alone.

"I am very pleased that the FAMES group has been convened and am impressed by the calibre of companies represented. I look forward to seeing a number of positive actions coming out of its work to help young people into employment, including raising awareness of the Modern Apprenticeship scheme and how young people could significantly aid a company's growth."

Brian Humphrey, national manager for Semta in Scotland, is keen to promote the real business advantages of apprenticeships and pointed to companies like Babcock and Castle Precision who have committed to stepping up their apprenticeship programmes as examples others can follow.

"We want to get the message across to employers - especially small and medium-sized firms - that there is unprecedented support, including funding, to help recruit and train young people as well as adult apprentices, and make the process of hiring apprentices as easy as possible for businesses," he said.

"There are excellent career prospects in manufacturing and engineering in Scotland and the potential for industry to tackle unemployment in the country in the long-term."

Scotland has approximately 142,600 employees and 11,500 employers across the engineering and science sectors which equate to just fewer than 10 per cent of engineering and science employers in the UK.

Some of the key areas FAMES will look at are:

• Only 29 per cent of all engineering establishments in Scotland employ apprentices or recognised trainees

• Just under 20 per cent of all employers in Scotland reported skills gaps (21 per cent for UK)

• Nearly two-thirds of science, engineering and manufacturing technology employers believe technical and practical skills need to be improved (48 per cent for all employers)

Chair of the Forum, David Watson, manager, Composite Development Centre, Spirit Aerosystems (Europe) Limited, said: "There are a number of challenges facing Scotland's advanced manufacturing sector and we are determined to work more closely together to ensure this country continues to playing a leading role in the global economy and remains attractive to potential investors."


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