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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Employers commit to training future engineering talent

UK firms joining forces to address the major shortage of highly-skilled engineers which is impacting on sector growth and productivity. 

Major engineering employers have committed to training the next generation of engineering talent within their existing workforce by supporting the new government-backed Higher Apprenticeship in Engineering Environmental Technologies which launched last week at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London, and will be available from June 2013.

Engineering has been identified by the government as a high-growth industry, however, employer concerns about the acute shortfall of around 42,000 highly-skilled engineers, with severe under-representation amongst women, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups and those with disabilities, have prompted the development of the Higher Apprenticeship.

Lead Development Partner for the Higher Apprenticeship is City and Islington College, supported by Sector Skills Councils SEMTA, SummitSkills and Construction Industry Council (CIC) on behalf of Construction-Skills. The awarding body is Pearson. Employers including Babcock International, ICI, Dulux, MITIE and Balfour Beatty have played a key role in shaping the Higher Apprenticeship to ensure its relevance to the needs of a wide range of engineering-based businesses, from large employers to supply-chain SMEs. Industry bodies and diversity groups have also been consulted.

Speaking at the launch event today, Trevor Hunter, deputy director for Higher Apprenticeships at City and Islington College, said: "This new Higher Apprenticeship will play a pivotal role in upskilling the current Construction, Building Services and Manufacturing workforce where skills shortages are challenging businesses of all sizes. 

"It will create the next generation of talented technicians, supervisors and managers who will be able to address future environmental issues, and without whom, these industries and the wider UK economy will struggle to grow. We know that the employers that have been consulted and involved in its development view it as beneficial to their businesses, to staff progression and retention, and to long-term growth."

The government has provided £25 million to help employers train more of their workforce to gain qualifications at level four and above, helping them to foster innovation and attract the most promising new talent. The Higher Apprenticeship in Engineering Environmental Technologies is primarily aimed at craftspeople and technicians working in roles that include environmental engineering across the Construction, Building Services and Manufacturing industries. It is also open to potential employees with relevant qualifications.

Testing knowledge and competence, the Higher Apprenticeship combines high-quality, professional-level training and flexible delivery. It encompasses a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) and a Higher National Certificate (HNC) at level four, functional Skills (English, Maths and ICT), employee rights and responsibilities, and personal learning and thinking skills.

Funding will be available to employers through the Skills Funding Agency with the size of contribution dependent on sector, size of business and the apprentice's age. A £1,500 grant is available for SMEs employing up to 1,000 employees who have not employed an apprentice in the last twelve months.

Professor John M. Allport, engineering training and talent development leader at Cummins Turbo Technologies, said: "Higher Apprenticeships are an important strand in the provision of the workforce for tomorrow, where a diverse range of skills will be needed which cannot be provided through a single educational channel.

"We need to look at the overall abilities of young people, not just academic, but practical and soft skills as well.  This Higher Apprenticeship will give students the ability to meet the future needs of companies such as Cummins which are committed to reducing their carbon footprint through environmental technologies."

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