Fears that UK industry is failing to tackle widespread skills shortages and that skill sets are falling short of employers’ expectations can be avoided if business leaders and training colleges work more closely together, according to the head of one of the region’s major engineering training centres.
Terry Weston, Skills Director at Maritime & Engineering College North West (MECNW), a Mersey Maritime Group Company, warned: “The effect of skills shortages is already being widely felt in today’s workforce. While it will take some time to adequately address this issue, it is vital that the process gets underway. Employers need to work with colleges like MECNW to upskill existing staff and invest in accredited apprenticeship training to ensure they are able to meet current and future demand.”
He added: “MECNW experience proves that tailoring each apprenticeship model for the individual employer works, being prepared to abandon traditional models of delivery, protecting the entry level requirements to ensure better candidates, and extensively engaging the employer in the direct training of the apprentice.”
He was responding to a recent survey by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) in its ninth annual Engineering and Technology: Skills & Demand in Industry report, which revealed that companies are hiring at the fastest rate for 16 years and yet skill sets are falling short of employers’ expectations.
The IET report revealed that over half of employers (51%) were recruiting engineering staff this year and were finding it difficult to meet demand. Out of those employed, 44% of engineering, IT and technical recruits did not meet employers’ expected standards.
Mr Weston said: “A recent Ofsted inspection of MECNW commented that many of our first and second year apprentices are working at levels not expected of them until their final year. This supports our view that apprenticeships work, can contribute in a more timely way and more importantly, support the wider skills gap solution.”
Maritime and Engineering College North West
Building on its excellent reputation, MECNW aims to create opportunities for local employees with its programme of advanced apprenticeships. These apprenticeships provide skilled jobs for local people and skilled workers for local firms which enable them to remain competitive and pursue growth. MECNW aims to drive up the number of apprenticeships with the engineering, engineering construction and related sectors by continuously improving its engagement of employers, local authority, schools and partners.
Mersey Maritime Group
Mersey Maritime Group was formed in 2007, bringing together two separate but complementary organisations: Mersey Maritime Limited, the private-public sector body that since 2003 has represented the interests of the 1700 companies that make up the maritime sector on Merseyside; and MECNW, the Birkenhead based training provider set up in 1998 to provide local industry with engineering and related apprenticeship as well as commercial training.