25 June, 2018

Special 21st Anniversary Report - Eventful journey

12 December, 2017

there weren’t many of these types of opportunities around; now, we have a situation whereby more companies are offering apprenticeships but there is a shortage of candidates applying for these positions. So, I think the Government and industry in general still has much work to do in terms of motivating young people to think seriously about the benefits of a career in engineering and manufacturing. At Webtec, we are trying to influence this locally through various outreach schemes like EES and Primary Engineer.”

Power maintains that policies surrounding encouraging young people into the engineering and manufacturing sector through apprenticeships is an important change to note. “According to the Government, the UK faces an estimated shortfall of 20,000 engineering graduates a year, with half of companies in the sector saying the shortage is having a significant impact on productivity and growth,” he said. “Ensuring industry has a workforce of skilled professionals in place is critically important. Whether it’s due to ever-increasing tuition fees or the academic environment simply not providing the right professional route, going to university is not for everyone.”

Power pointed out that by recruiting directly into the business, or collaborating with its distributor partners and offering support for training costs, Gardner Denver is playing a vital role in trying to increase the number of school, college and university leavers into a career in the compressed air industry. “By training these professionals up from the start, we can help ensure they are equipped with the right skills for life,” he said. “However, on a wider industry scale, it’s crucial that we continue to position the manufacturing and engineering sector as an attractive proposition for young people. The industry is a long way behind where it needs to be, and it should be a real focus in the coming years.”

Buxton reflected that if anything good came out of the recession of 2008/9 it was the UK Government being forced to accept that a successful economy couldn’t rely upon a purely service based industry dominated by banks’ lending money to each other at extortionate LIBOR rates and then playing ‘hot-potato’ with toxic debts. “In seeking a new lifeboat to which they might attach their safety line, they rediscovered manufacturing,” he said. “Since then, we have seen successive cabinets invest in what has been coined as the Government’s Industrial Strategy. Indeed, a white paper on this very subject is expected at any time now and industry has high hopes for the content. Based around ten key pillars, the strategy is designed to take Britain’s manufacturing capability into the new Post-Brexit era. Whether or not it will do so is still to be seen, but, in fairness, Government has engaged with industry (including the BFPA) in its development and the early signs are very positive.”

From the building services point of view with regard to the heating of buildings, Littlewood believes Government policy has been a good thing. “It is all about energy saving and clean emissions, which is saving companies money and helping the environment,” he said.

Revell believes Government policies have grown ever more focused on supporting the UK’s manufacturing sector, with a realisation that the country cannot rely on the service sectors alone. “With the uncertainty over the future shape of trading relationships in Europe, UK plc need to ensure we are leading technology to remain competitive in the world economy,” he said. “Investment in the new technologies and mining the skills of our university graduates will secure our place in the market and help us develop new innovations to lead new market trends.”

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