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The Skills Question: West Midlands

Posted by: Tom Webb-Skinner 28 Apr 14 - 3:30PM  | Engineering

The need to invest in engineering skills across the UK has been well-documented – including on this blog – but what about the need within the Midlands? With our head office in Stourbridge, we are greatly interested in and affected by what happens in the Midlands and there have been a few interesting views shared as of late. Local businesses have been highlighting the requirement to boost skills in the area, one leader said that "it is time the education sector realised its responsibility to produce pupils capable of being employed and to that end focus on the demand we have for engineers" adding that it has been due to demand from companies like Jaguar Land Rover, with their huge growth, that the need is acutely felt in the Midlands.

It seems there is good reason to assume that other issues could arise to make this skills gap more obvious too – with the development of the HS2 line between London and Birmingham. A recent report says that this is actually a great opportunity to develop skills in the area though; Birmingham City Council Leader Sir Albert Bore stated that “In Birmingham we have a young population with 38 per cent of people under 24. Skills development and the apprenticeship programme are very important to this city and the West Midlands. We need to make sure we have the right skills to make sure our young people have access to those jobs." On face value, this is an astute point – the project should also continue to generate a lot of publicity and if it can be closely associated with employment opportunities then hopefully this will serve to drive young people into the field.

There have been the beginnings of developments in making the skill investments needed and a couple of stories have recently covered a funding boost for the Torc Campus Vocational Centre to push skills in automotive engineering. Tamworth's MP said that when he spoke to employers they found that a real challenge was a perceived lack of skills. Hopefully we'll continue to see more developments like this in the future! Do you have an opinion you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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Great Post :)
Posted by: Chris Potter, Date 30 July 2014, 05:51 AM
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