SKILLS, and the lack of them, are a main concern among the region’s manufacturers who want the Government to give more control over funding for training to industry rather than training organisations, says a poll today.
Manufacturing organisation EEF says 74% of its members report finding and recruiting staff is a key concern, while 43% disagreed that access to funding for training is easier than it was two years ago.
North West firms say they will substantially increase investment in skills in response to a demand for more highly-skilled staff, but they warn that even without a strong recovery, there is still a skills shortage, including a lack of technical skills, work experience and relevant qualifications.
Companies are responding by increasing investment in training, apprenticeships and by developing better links with schools and further education colleges.
However, only a minority of manufacturers are reporting that the Government’s efforts to create a simpler, demand-led, skills system have made it easier for them to invest in the skills they need.
Warrington-based EEF North West director David Ost, said: “Manufacturers are taking the initiative to ensure that skills gaps don’t hold them back from their ambitions to develop new products and services and expand into new markets.
“But despite the Government’s best efforts, investing in apprenticeships and finding the right qualifications, training courses and provider, is still far from straightforward.
“The time is ripe to go further and put employers in the driving seat by giving them the power to set the standards for their industry, the scope to decide how to train their apprenticeships and by routing public funding for training through the firms that invest in it.
“In doing so the Government should resist the vested interests of training providers to maintain the status quo and the calls to add more bureaucracy to the system by giving LEPs (Local Enterprise Partnerships) control of skills budgets.”
He added: “We also need to raise our level of our ambition on apprenticeships and the Government should be targeting any increase in resources for apprenticeships on those lead to higher skills”