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Government boost for apprenticeships


Apprenticeship is at the ‘heart’ of the government’s plans for economic growth, business secretary Vince Cable has claimed. Cable was commenting after the Post 16 Education & Skills Learner Participation, Outcomes and Level of Highest Qualifi cation Held report revealed that the number of people undertaking apprenticeships has being rising steadily over the past few years. A 16-per-cent rise in apprentices was seen between 2008/2009 and 2009/10, the report showed. ‘Our budget for growth will enable us to go still further, with additional investment of £180m to deliver more than 250,000 apprenticeships than under the previous government’s plans,’ said the business secretary. Minister for further education, skills and lifelong learning, John Hayes, added that government is aiming to make it easier for businesses to offer apprenticeships, by providing additional support. A recent survey from TCHC revealed that 70 per cent of SMEs it questioned were planning to take on new apprentices in the future.


Golden opportunities online for London 2012


Electrical contracting fi rms are being encouraged to register on CompeteFor, a free online service that enables businesses to compete for contract opportunities linked to the London 2012 Games and other major public and private-sector buying organisations, such as Transport for London (TfL), Crossrail and the Metropolitan Police. More than 50,000 contracts will be procured through the London 2012 supply chain and related work. CompeteFor matches buyers with potential suppliers and facilitates access to focused business support through the national Business Link network, helping to boost the long- term competitiveness of a business. CompeteFor is delivered through


a partnership between public and private sector organisations, working closely with The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), the


Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and other public sector organisations. A spokesperson at CompeteFor commented, ‘The aim of CompeteFor is to ensure the transparency and availability of London 2012 opportunities. It will maximise the number and diversity of businesses contributing to the London 2012 programme and create a legacy of increased capacity and expertise.’ ■ See www.competefor.com for details.


In brief


■ Paul Morrell, the government’s chief construction adviser, will give this year’s lecture and become the seventh recipient of the prestigious Happold Medal Award, which is awarded jointly by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) and the Happold Trust. Established in 1998, The Happold Medal Lecture is held in memory of the CIC’s fi rst chairman, Professor Sir Edmund (Ted) Happold, the founding senior partner of Buro Happold.


■ The government has launched a new website aimed at reviewing the red tape that businesses, including electrical


The London 2012 Olympic Stadium


COST HIKES HIT PROFIT MARGINS


According to research recently carried out by Plimsoll, one in three electrical contracting fi rms are making a loss. Plimsoll claims that many in the market are fi nding it diffi cult to pass cost infl ation on to their customers, as competitive pressure is restricting their pricing power.


Plimsoll’s David Pattison, the lead analyst and author of the research, said 61 per cent of companies have seen their gross margin fall in the latest year. He commented: ‘Over the past two years, the average profi t margin in the UK electrical contracting industry has fallen to two per cent.


Over the past two years, the average profi t margin in the UK electrical contracting industry has fallen to two per cent


‘More worryingly, 330 companies are losing money, with 119 of these doing so for the second year running. These companies face a tough decision – protect their market share and


continue to lose money or adjust their prices to refl ect their increased costs. Without refocusing on the bottom line, many of these companies will simply run out of cash.’


contractors, face. Members of the public, companies and other organisations are being asked to provide their opinions on some of the 21,000 regulations that are under review. See www.redtapechallenge. cabinetoffi ce.gov.uk


■ GreenBrook has published a comprehensive new Guide to RCDs to coincide with the launch of its brand new PowerBreaker range. Part product brochure, part background information on RCD technology and its vital role in electrical safety, the 20-page publication provides a checklist of what to look for in an RCD product, as well as up-to-date information on legislation and codes of practice.


■ Marco, the UK’s largest manufacturer of steel wire cable tray and uPVC Cable Management systems, has launched its latest catalogue alongside a bespoke stand designed using its own Steel Wire Cable Tray.


May 2011 ECA Today 7


SHUTTERSTOCK


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