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Prisk ECA T

assessment A

With the impact of the government’s comprehensive spending review still being absorbed by ECA members, ECA Today questions Mark Prisk MP, Minister for Business and Enterprise at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, on key issues affecting the industry

s Minister of State for Business and Enterprise at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Mark Prisk MP plays a crucial role in the coalition government on many of the key issues

that concern ECA members. The minister’s wide-ranging portfolio covers the construction industry and includes the low carbon economy, small business, enterprise and access to finance, plus economic growth, deregulation and business support. He’s also responsible for the Olympic legacy. As shadow spokesman for Business and Enterprise on the

opposition frontbench, the Member of Parliament for Hertford and Stortford was keen to promote business and a champion of deregulation. In the wake of the coalition government’s comprehensive spending review, and with the implications of its budget reduction programme still being absorbed by the industry, ECA Today took the opportunity to question the minister on how his department’s plans will impact on ECA members, small business and other key issues for the electrical contracting sector...

oday: We appear to be facing a ticking ‘skills

crisis’ timebomb – a shortfall in the number of qualified electricians needed to install the sort of energy-saving technology required to meet carbon reduction targets. If we are to meet carbon reduction targets for 2050

(which will require refurbishment and retro-fitting to much of the current UK housing stock), investment is required in the next generation of electricians. Do you see this as a problem, and what role do you see the government having in ensuring sufficient investment in training and apprenticeships for the electrical industry?

30 ECA Today Winter 2010

Mark Prisk: Skills are a key part of our plan for economic recovery and an urgent challenge. This country’s future can only be built by people who have the skills demanded by modern businesses in a globalised economy. That is why we have recently launched our strategy, Skills

for Sustainable Growth, setting out a vision for radical reform of the Further Education and Skills system to deliver skills for sustainable growth. Skills are essential if we are to return to sustainable growth,

extend social inclusion and social mobility, and build the Big Society. To achieve this, we must put learners, and not the state, in

the driving seat. We want to give them the funding, support and information they need to make the right choices for their future. We will put apprenticeships at the heart of the system and

will expand the programme. Apprenticeships bring together individuals, motivated to develop themselves; employers, investing in their own success; and government, providing public funding and building the prestige and reputation of the programme. Meanwhile, work is taking place to establish what new

skills will be required to meet the changing nature of the economy, and how we respond to that, particularly as we move more towards a low carbon resource-efficient economy using smarter technologies to make the best use of resources. For example, there is now an Electro- technical advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3) that covers the installation, maintenance and repair of electro-technical equipment – from installing electrical systems inside a new building to maintaining machinery on a production line. This complements apprenticeships at level 2, but offers a higher level of skills training and competence. This is important as it will provide the building blocks for supplying the electricians the economy will demand in the future.

ECA T oday: With the recent issue concerning a lack

of university places, is this an appropriate time for the government to encourage young people to see apprenticeships as a credible – and rewarding – alternative to the A levels and university career path?

Mark Prisk: This is an excellent time to remind young people of the range of opportunities open to them. Every

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