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More support needed for apprentice investment

ECA president Diane Johnson has welcomed findings by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on the economic value of government-funded post-19 qualifications, but warns that more must be done to help businesses reap those benefits.

Johnson commented: ‘While we welcome the findings, which suggest that apprenticeships generate £40 for

each £1 of government investment, the government needs to do more than simply recognise this, and instead must offer firms practical, financial support to develop the next generation.’

Johnson voiced her approval for the introduction of funding by the government for more apprenticeship places, but cautioned that firms will be limited in their ability to take

Diane Johnson has called for more support for firms

that want to take on apprentices

advantage of the opportunity without additional support. She added: ‘Now, more than ever, we need to convince firms to employ apprentices. But the only way I can see this happening is if the government continues to offer them financial support to ease the short-term burden of investing in the future. In this current climate, firms – particularly SMEs – simply don’t have the money to invest.’ Providing support for this

investment could play a significant role in maintaining the competitiveness of the UK on a global stage. Johnson warned: ‘We are sitting on a ticking time bomb. If we don’t act now, we will not have the homegrown talent needed to fulfil this country’s potential. The consequences of that will be more far reaching than most people realise.’ Johnson concluded: ‘I work in the electrical industry, where the average age is around 45. This means we could face serious problems in five years’ time as these skilled individuals start retiring from the profession, or look to take a less physical, office- based job. If we fail to invest in skills, we simply will not have sufficient numbers to replace them.’

SkillELECTRIC 2011 call-up

Electrical apprentices across the UK are being encouraged to enter this year’s SkillELECTRIC competition, which will aim to find the UK’s best apprentice electrician.

Organised by SummitSkills, entrants will be examined using a series of tests, typically found in day-to-day work. Heats will take place across the UK, with the final set to be held in September. ‘Taking part in SkillELECTRIC is not only highly motivational for employees, but also drives them to achieve higher standards back in the workplace,’ said Neil Collishaw, head of skills competitions and awards at SummitSkills.

BEAMA drives Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project

With 2011 marking the launch of more than 20 new electric vehicles, BEAMA’s chief executive officer, Howard Porter, told delegates at the association’s Low Carbon Living Conference that its Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project brings together organisations with a major interest in developing the UK’s EV charging infrastructure. He said: ‘This project is a sign that BEAMA members are committed to helping the government achieve its low carbon transport targets. Notably, by helping to develop the standards

6 ECA Today May 2011

regime and infrastructure rollout, that will signal a shift in the way we power our road vehicles. ‘Initiatives are being developed which will facilitate the EV sector by identifying market and technical barriers, and evolving product and system standards solutions.’ The launch was supported by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), and a spokesperson stated: ‘The EV infrastructure component market represents a potentially significant economic opportunity. We are pleased to see that BEAMA is taking the lead in exploring what this represents for UK companies.’

BEAMA has launched an intiative to help develop the UK’s electric vehicle infrastructure

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