Major companies warn engineering skills 'at risk'

Major companies warn engineering skills 'at risk'

Business leaders at some of Britain's biggest engineering companies have warned the Government is compounding major skills shortages in the industry and hampering efforts to rebalance the economy following plans to downgrade technical qualifications.  By Telegraph Jobs’ editor, Louisa Peacock.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph on Monday, 16 industry heavyweights at organisations including JCB, Toshiba, Siemens, Sony and Boeing, warn the UK will fail to ramp up its engineering capability unless the Government puts serious effort into developing appropriate technical training for young people and promoting the profession to make it more attractive.

The senior executives say that they are "surprised and stunned" at the Government's plans to downgrade the relatively new Engineering Diploma for 14 to 19 year-olds from its current value of five GCSEs to one.

They warn that devaluing the qualification, introduced in 2008, undermines efforts to develop a future pipeline of apprentices, technicians and engineers.

In today's letter, headed by Mike Short, president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the business leaders write: "The Engineering Diploma is widely recognised as a significant route to providing the crucial technical and practical skills that young people will need to build a Britain that can compete effectively and internationally where technology can make such a difference to our digital world."

They continue: "The engineering community is surprised and stunned at the Government's plan for downgrading the value of the existing Engineering Diploma after so little time since it came into existence."

As part of a wide-ranging review into vocational education, the engineering qualification, developed by JCB and Rolls-Royce, is set to have its quality status removed, doing little to entice people to pursue the career.

The downgrade plans follow a damning Government review by Professor Alison Wolf into skills-based education for 14 to 19 year-olds inEngland. Her report warned as many as 400,000 students a year are studying worthless qualifications – often at a huge cost to the taxpayer – even though they fail to lead to university or a decent job.

But the Government has not listened to repeated attempts by the engineering world to protect the new diploma, seen as "robust and attractive" in the industry to addressing skills gaps in the UK, the companies claim.

A DfE spokesman said the Government was determined to deliver education and training that met the needs of employers. "That is why we have vastly expanded the number of University Technical Colleges and why we are reforming the vocational qualification system," he said.

This article was originally featured on

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

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