Monday, January 26, 2015

News: Engineering skills fund "not fit for purpose"

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Sheffield Heeley MP Meg Munn has criticised the Government's Employer Ownership Fund (EOF) as not fit for purpose after learning that just £720,000 of a £30m budget is forecasted to be spent in 2014/15.

Under the initiative, employers combine their own money with government funding, to invest in the training they need. The initiatives follow on from the recommendations of the Perkins Review of Engineering Skills published in November 2013, and sees the Government establishing partnerships with employers from across industry with multi-million pound collaborative investments in initiatives such as The National College of Advanced Manufacturing which will be joint-headquartered in Rotherham.

Industry experts informed the MP, who is also Patron of the Women's Engineering Society, that the application criteria for the EOF was both "onerous and too expensive", with numerous employers finding the £40,000 match funding requirement very difficult to meet. Of the £10m of the fund targeted at women in engineering, which closed on December 5 2014, only £104,000 has been spent and just three applications made in total.

Meg Munn, MP for Heeley (pictured at the AMRC Training Centre in Rotherham, said: "These figures call into question how serious the Government really is about tackling our significant engineering skills shortage. It's all well and good supposedly setting aside £30m to help employers increase the supply of engineers, but the funding has to be accessible. This has simply not been the case with the Employer Ownership Fund.

"The Minister must explain why only three applications were made to the "Developing Women Engineers" stream when he was adamant that there were no flaws in the application process.

"The Government claims to be serious about fully engaging employers to invest in the skills of women engineers, but an underspend of around £9.9m pounds calls this commitment into question."

Employers in the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector in the Sheffield city region are already working together to take ownership of addressing skills issues. KOSTAL, the German firm which develops and manufactures technologically advanced electronic, electromechanical and mechatronic products and has its UK base in Goldthorpe, which is in Barnsley, secured part of a £5m government fund that gives funding direct to businesses, enabling them to raise skills, create jobs, and drive enterprise and economic growth.

Brinsworth Training in Rotherham is also running the Academy of Manufacturing and Engineering Excellence (AMEE), which is part-funded by the Employer Ownership Fund and is targeting training up to 800 young people and placing 300 jobless into apprenticeships.

Employer ownership website

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