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Jon Kennard


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News: Scottish Skills Alliance aims to lead the country’s economic growth


Leading industrialists from across Scotland will today launch a new group to boost the number of apprenticeships, as the manufacturing sector looks to lead the country into a new era of economic growth and job creation.
The Forum for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Skills (FAMES) is aiming to significantly increase the number of apprentices recruited in the sector this year while also taking on more graduates and upskilling existing workforces.
The group will be made up of representatives from champion employers, business membership organisations, training providers and key stakeholders, who have joined forces to speak with one voice on the issue.
FAMES is being co-ordinated by Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies, with the aim of giving Scotland a stronger voice to provide an integrated way of developing demand-led solutions to skill issues.
An inaugural meeting is being held in Glasgow today where plans will be drawn up to identify common issues and to engage businesses across the country. Among those attending are:
Spirit Aerosystems, Babcock Engineering Services, Selex Galileo, Clydespace, Steel Engineering Weir Group, Siemens, Thales, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service, Strathclyde University. 
Minister for Youth Employment Angela Constance said: “Our young people have much to offer every sector in the Scottish economy and advanced manufacturing and engineering are no different. Our challenge is to help our young people, from all backgrounds and capabilities, make the most of their talents, but we cannot meet this challenge alone.
“I am very pleased that the FAMES group has been convened and am impressed by the calibre of companies represented. I look forward to seeing a number of positive actions coming out of its work to help young people into employment, including raising awareness of the Modern Apprenticeship scheme and how young people could significantly aid a company’s growth.”
Brian Humphrey, national manager for Semta in Scotland, is keen to promote the real business advantages of apprenticeships and pointed to companies like Babcock and Castle Precision who have committed to stepping up their apprenticeship programmes as examples others can follow.
 “We want to get the message across to employers – especially small and medium-sized firms - that there is unprecedented support, including funding, to help recruit and train young people as well as adult apprentices, and make the process of hiring apprentices as easy as possible for businesses,” he said.
“There are excellent career prospects in manufacturing and engineering in Scotland and the potential for industry to tackle unemployment in the country in the long-term.”
Scotland has approximately 142,600 employees and 11,500 employers across the engineering and science sectors which equates to just under 10% of engineering and science employers in the UK.
Some of the key areas FAMES will look at are:
  • Only 29% of all engineering establishments in Scotland employ apprentices or recognised trainees
  • 15% of all employers in Scotland reported skills gaps (21% for UK)
  • 61% of Science, Engineering and Manufacturing technology employers believe technical and practical skills need to be improved (48% for all employers)
Chair of the Forum, David Watson, manager, Composite Development Centre, Spirit Aerosystems (Europe) Limited, said: “There are a number of challenges facing Scotland’s advanced manufacturing sector and we are determined to work more closely together to ensure this country continues to playing a leading role in the global economy and remains attractive to potential investors.”
Semta can help firms to access funding, quality training providers and a suite of tools to give them a return on their investment. Help is also available to recruit, mentor and train apprentices and graduates, with high quality programmes for those on the shop floor through to the managing director.
It is working with companies in all parts of the UK to address the skills challenge and put advanced manufacturing at the heart of future growth.

Author Profile Picture
Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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