Commenting on the speech by the Leader of the Opposition, Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said:
“Business will welcome some aspects of Labour’s plans, especially the priority given to apprentices and skills and, the entirely appropriate aim of getting people out of low paid jobs. Ed Miliband is also right that our economic wellbeing is inextricably linked to the EU and we must stay in membership.“While there are many sums of parts, however, the total does not yet add up to the ambition or the full picture of a potential government in waiting. It was disappointing that we did not hear more about economic and industrial strategy and planning.
“We face massive challenges in boosting investment in skills, innovation, our infrastructure and science to ensure we have a modern 21st century, technologically advanced economy that competes in a global world. We need to see more flesh on the bones showing us how the sustainable growth we want to see, with the private sector at the forefront, will be supported by Labour.”
On Apprenticeships, Terry Scuoler said:
“Business will welcome the commitment to focus on delivering more quality Apprenticeships, with employers having a greater role in the design, delivery and funding of such training. The goal to get more young people to take an apprenticeship will have full backing from industry, but will require a concerted effort from government, businesses and schools to meet this ambitious target.
“Labour, however, should move away from proposals to make offering Apprenticeships a requirement for those delivering public procurement contracts and instead encourage participation by ensuring Apprenticeships are employer-led and deliver world-class talent.
“With skills shortage rife within sectors such as engineering, companies need access to the widest pool of talent including from overseas. This process must be simply and accessible without placing any additional burdens and requirements.”
On the commitment on the Green Economy, Terry Scuoler, said:
“Manufacturers up and down the country will welcome the commitment from the Labour Leader to create an environment where the UK is clearly seen as the place to invest in high value, high skilled and highly paid jobs. We must ensure that the UK is seen as a world leader in low carbon innovation.
“Government support here is crucial, from arming young people with STEM skills, support within the science base and government procurement. In the transition to a low carbon economy, we must avoid becoming a high cost market that others feed, but ensure that the UK demonstrates that you can achieve both green and growth at the same time.”
On Low Pay, Terry Scuoler said:
“Moving more people out of low-paid jobs is an important economic and social objective in which business should rightly play its part. Whilst the National Minimum Wage is an important tool in boosting the living standards of the low paid, it is not the only tool. The focus should be on creating sustainable growth with a more productive and flexible workforce. This will enable them to secure well-paid jobs in companies that are working in highly competitive global markets.”