On the first day of skills week the government gave to me

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"On of the first day of skills week the government gave to me..."

 This week has been an almighty week for skills. Since Monday I have been considering what to blog on today and I just couldn't’t make up my mind. I was listing all the various policy announcements and news on the skills scene and the list was endless. I felt that I was almost singing my own version of the 12 Days of Christmas but perhaps I need to retitle it the five days of skills week?

“On the first day of skills week the government and industry gave to me…. the 2 millionth Apprentice in this Parliament…..

This week started off with a great deal of celebration with the #2million Apprentice.  The boost to Apprenticeships in recent years has been one of the leading achievements of the coalition. For a long time the lack of young people choosing this route has been the chink in our country’s armory and potentially a contributor to the skills shortages we see today.

Of course we cannot sit back and simply be happy with the 2million Apprentices but instead build on the momentum of this milestone, encouraging more young people to pursue vocational pathways and encourage more employers to get involved. And let’s not forget to focus on the quality of apprenticeships too – something manufacturers are extremely proud of.

“On the second day of skills week the UKCES gave to me …the top 40 jobs….

The UKCES produced an excellent report this week which looked at some of top jobs young people should consider in the future and it was great to see so many manufacturing and engineering roles included. Particular attention was paid to Mechanical Engineers and here are a couple of reasons why:

  • The average starting salary for a Mechanical Engineer is £22k
  • This then rises considerably with the average Mechanical Engineer earning £40k
  • And there are plenty of opportunities out there with 50,000 job openings for Mechanical Engineers between 2012-2020 (Source: UKCES)

“On the third day of skills week the government gave to me….a new careers company….

At the Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced £20m of funding for careers provision. It wasn’t clear at the time how this money would be spent. Clarity was given this week when the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced a new Careers and Enterprise Company. We have heard for a long time that both employers, and indeed learners, have been left seriously underwhelmed with careers provision and that it was in need of a radical overhaul.

It’s fair to say that employers have been left pretty bewildered when attempting to navigate through a complicated landscape in terms of engaging with schools. We know there are huge amounts of good work out there to broker the relationship but it is becoming a crowded space. Therefore we have continued to call for a one-stop-shop those co-ordinates this work and we hope that the new careers company will achieve this.

The Education Secretary also announced a new Enterprise Passport, which was first advocated by Lord Young in his report Enterprise for All. The Enterprise Passport will aim to incentivise young people to participate in a range of extra-curricular activities to boost their appeal to employers. We do feel the government could have gone further however and if we really want to give young people experience of the world of work then work experience should be reintroduced into schools.

“On the fourth day of skills week the government gave to me….four National Colleges…

This week also saw the announcement of four employer-led National Colleges in Advanced Manufacturing, digital, wind energy and the creative industries. Government has committed up to £80m of capital funding that is to be matched by employers over 2015 to 2016 and 2016 to 2017.

The National College for Advanced Manufacturing is a partnership between EEF itself and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. So why has EEF engaged in the National College initiative? Well, our members continue to tell us that they struggling to recruit skilled employees (four in five say so). Moreover, new technologies and trends towards high value goods and services means that lower skilled jobs are diminishing and manufacturers need to retrain existing employees to keep up with new processes. Our National College for Advanced Manufacturing will be one channel through which manufacturers can access these higher-level skills.

“On the fifth day of skills week the government gave to me…. £2.5million skills funding pot….

We blogged recently that the deadline for a pot of skills funding for engineering companies was soon to close. The pot of funding available was available to engineering companies who were prepared to invest a minimum of £40k on skills projects which would be match funded by government. We raised some concerns that the threshold for the funding was too high, and therefore were delighted to see the scheme is now opened to SME employers and that the minimum grant has been dropped to £10k, making the scheme far more accessible and realistically reflect the amount many small companies are able to invest in skills and training. Some 43% of manufacturers disagree that access to skills funding has improved in the past two years so here’s hoping when we ask them next time, we will see improvements.

…Four National colleges…

…A new careers company…

…The Top 40 jobs…

….and the 2 millionth Apprentice in this Parliament!”

Author

Head of Education & Skills Policy

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