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Recruitment concern for Gloucestershire manufacturers

PUBLISHED: 11:39 26 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:57 20 February 2013

Recruitment concern for Gloucestershire manufacturers

Recruitment concern for Gloucestershire manufacturers

Gloucestershire Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing Group asks where the next generation of engineers will come from

Recruitment concern for Gloucestershire manufacturers

Gloucestershire Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing Group asks where the next generation of engineers will come from

The recruitment of skilled employees is the biggest single issue for many British manufacturers, and the decline in engineering apprenticeships during the 80s is now affecting Cotswolds companies ability to recruit locally, but Gloucestershires Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing Group, is doing something about it.

During 2012 this group of representatives from key local manufacturers have been improving the situation locally, including commissioning a video for show in schools and colleges across the county.

Steve Hawkins is Site Director at Tewkesbury-based Moog, a worldwide designer, manufacturer and integrator of precision control components and systems. He also chairs the LEPs Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing Group: We increased our workforce by about sixty people in the last eighteen months but struggle to find certain categories of employees. Recruiting machinists, mechatronics graduates, product engineers and methods engineers has been particularly difficult and time consuming.

At one time companies such as Dowty turned out over a hundred apprentices and graduates a year. These people, such as myself, are close to retiring age and the supply is just not there, he says. Finding skilled employees with the right attitude to work is our single biggest long term issue.

Why should a school leaver consider engineering? Well, they may not earn what some investment bankers have in the past, but they wont be a target for rotten eggs,they can put more back into society and have a more interesting career.

And for those hung up about money, some engineers do indeed earn a lot. The Board of one of Gloucestershires most successful manufacturing businesses, Renishaw, is made up of nearly all engineers, and the same goes for others across the Cotswolds.

But for them its not about money. Many engineers travel, learn new skills and discover exciting technologies - and working for a successful company in the Cotswolds offers a quality of life difficult to replicate anywhere else.

Ironically, increased tuition fees have meant students and parents thinking twice about whether a degree will really help the student get a job anyway. As a result, manufacturing companies have seen a dramatic change in the quality of students applying for apprenticeships this year.

According to Steve Hawkins: Moog normally gets a handful of applicants in response to an advert, this year the response was over sixty. The Government is doing a lot to promote apprenticeships and this needs to continue.

Many teachers have no idea about modern business, and Gloucestershires LEP is determined that its video will educate teachers as well as students about the manufacturing sector, promoting work experience and encouraging schools to attend open days.

Chris Pockett, Renishaws Head of Communications, said: We have to get people through our doors we can talk until were blue in the face about how manufacturing has changed, but theres no substitute for physically experiencing the modern engineering and manufacturing environment when we opened our Stonehouse machine shop in April the response was fantastic, especially from parents who are the single biggest influencer on a childs future career. Each year we also give up to 60 one-week work experience slots to 14-17 year olds, and this summer we gave placements to 65 university undergraduates.

Would-be engineers now dont have to have a degree or even A levels, but do need enthusiasm and commitment.

Costs of taking onan apprentice

Typical salary commitment taking on an apprentice for four years is around 47,000, the Government contributes 1,500 if the company is an SME. But part of the 47,000 is a 14% contribution to National Insurance which, the Gloucestershire LEP Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing Group thinks, doesnt make sense.

One member of the Group said: Taxing apprenticeship salaries when the Government wants more apprenticeships is perverse logic. Companies that commit to develop young people through apprenticeships and other recognised training schemes should be given tax incentives.

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