Semta's Chief Executive Ann Watson shares her views on the latest news, policy, issues and events of interest to the engineering and advanced manufacturing sector. 


Wednesday, 27 July 2016 00:00

Shaping Skills Policy to Meet the Needs of Apprentices

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Apprenticeship-Zone-768x432I was heartened by the news earlier this week that the new Skills Minister, Robert Halfon, has taken on his fourth apprentice following his appointment to his new role. Mr Halfon was the first Member of Parliament to take on an apprentice and hopefully now that he is in post, more of his colleagues will take on one of their own – at present, the proportion of MPs with an apprentice is barely one in one hundred.

Apprenticeships are, after all, a hot topic in Westminster at the moment, with the April 2017 introduction of the levy fast approaching and the Institute for Apprenticeships in the process of appointing staff and board members. While the government has a headline target of three million apprenticeship starts by 2020, and while apprenticeships have support from all parties as a way of helping the country to meet its skills needs, there’s nothing like having your own apprentice to help you to appreciate just how important they are to the individuals who go through these programmes.

Advanced manufacturing and engineering firms do, of course, have a well-earned reputation for taking on apprentices – 26% of the workforce in the sector has been through an apprenticeship, including many of its CEOs and chairmen of boards (including our own, Allan Cook CBE). An apprenticeship can be a route to the top, and having so many former apprentices running firms in the sector means that those firms continue to offer high-quality, rigorous, relevant apprenticeship programmes.

However, there aren’t many former apprentices in the Houses of Parliament, so there’s always a risk that the apprentice experience and voice will be lost when apprenticeships policy is being made. That’s why the Semta Group has been proud to support the Industry Apprentice Council (IAC) a group of talented young apprentices who are making their voices heard in the corridors of power. That voice has been amplified by the publication of the group’s latest annual report; underpinned by a survey of over 1,500 apprentices, it concludes with a powerful Five Point Plan to further protect and enhance the quality and reputation of industry apprenticeships. You may also be interested to view the IAC Launch & 5 Point Plan Video.

With the average age of a UK engineer currently at 54, and with almost half sector’s workforce predicted to retire between 2012-22, it’s imperative that we can bring in talented young people to meet employers’ skills needs and maintain the sector’s reputation for innovation and excellence. By reading the report and by engaging with the IAC, policymakers and Parliamentarians can gain a real insight into what apprentices themselves think and want, and can then shape policy to ensure that apprenticeships are an attractive and valued route into work for young people. 

Read 2385 times Last modified on Thursday, 25 August 2016 13:57