1st March 2016
Employers in the Humber region were urged to rise to the challenge of the Government’s apprenticeship levy proposals when they met at a forum organised by HETA.
Speakers and members of the audience acknowledged the need to tackle the shortfall in engineers, and they agreed that more information about the levy is essential to help employers resolve too many questions which remain unanswered.
Key figures from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and the EEF manufacturers’ organisation said more clues about the levy – which is due to be introduced next year – will emerge in the coming weeks.
Rebecca Cooper, employer and delivery services manager at the SFA, said the Government is making headway towards its target of three million new apprentices by 2020 but accepted that employers need more guidance.
Christian Warden, the EEF’s director of engineering skills, challenged employers to rise to the challenges of the levy for the sake of British manufacturing.
The EEF has had to embrace the levy. It is something we were against in principle but we are trying to make sure our employers gain from it.
For every engineering graduate we produce, India produces 10, and they are quality graduates. We need to step up our game. It is not going to happen just because we are British. We need to do something about it and that means giving our employers and employees the best possible framework for skills development.
The shortfall in people in engineering is about 94,300. If we only replace the people who are leaving the sector we will not be able to compete on a global scale because we will not be moving forward.
We need to start looking at new ways of teaching, learning and skills development. We need to look at strategic workforce planning, more people coming into the sector, more people upskilling and the attractiveness of the sector and how we can plan three, five, 10 years ahead.
All businesses are in business for profitability and investment in skills can lead directly to a bottom line improvement. We expect the growth in apprenticeships to come from manufacturing and that is what we need.
Iain Elliott, Chief Executive of HETA, said:
The government has embarked on a series of significant reforms designed to raise quality of delivery but it also alters the way they are funded by putting more control in the hands of employers.
Across the training and skills sector there may be evidence that some apprentice programmes have been substandard and some of the changes are contentious but they are under way. It is a brave new world and a brave new way of delivering skills that employers want.
Major employers from across the region including Novartis, BP Chemicals, Total LOR and the NHS attended the event and were urged to monitor announcements from the Government.
HETA will organise a series of similar events in its role as a conduit for information designed to help employers navigate the changes.
Given the pace of change HETA will take a leading role in supporting employers. All the research says that we are still losing skilled people faster than we are recruiting new people. We have to continually look at what we need to address the skills gaps.
I see plenty of young people who are interested in working in engineering but we see some uncertainty among employers. Some companies are doing well and others face challenges but we urge them to continue looking at their future skills demand regardless of that, the simple message being – recruit apprentices now!