Friday, May 11, 2012

News: Apprentices can help local manufacturers remain one step ahead


Former education secretary and Sheffield Brightside MP David Blunkett was in Rotherham this week to call on local businesses to address the skills crisis facing the manufacturing sector by working together to help restore pride in apprenticeships.

He was speaking at an event organised by international law firm Hill Dickinson which was held at the Advanced Manufacturing Park. It brought together business, education and public sector leaders to look at how, by sharing skills and resources, they can work together to redress the economy and find solutions to drive British exports.

The MP was joined on the panel by Master Cutler Pam Liversidge, Anthony Knowles from the National Apprenticeship Service, Andrew Cropley from Norton College, Nigel Brewster Board member of the Sheffield City region LEP, as well as Hill Dickinson's David Rawlinson.

Delivering the keynote address, Mr Blunkett, said: "Apprenticeships are not just about skills. They are about growing pride in the job and we need to encourage youngsters to think creatively about what they can do with their hands and their brains. We must help them to learn to take pride in what they can make.

"We have tremendous heritage and potential not just in engineering but in health and sport too, but we have to remain one step ahead. Instead of resisting change, we should be welcoming it and taking the lead so we can shape it."

Mr Blunkett said it was important that the public and private sector worked together to improve skills and called for "imaginative" thinking in developing new solutions.

He added: "We should be shouting about South Yorkshire and what we have to offer. We should be proud of our past - not living in it, but learning from it.

"We owe our young people. We need to give them their self-respect and self-worth back, but most importantly we have to pull all the pieces of the jigsaw together to give them hope for the future."

Delegates at the event also heard more about the progress of the new University Technology College alongside existing national and local educational and apprenticeship initiatives.

Anthony Knowles discussed the value of Apprenticeships to local businesses and said: "If every company in the City region employed an apprentice there would be no unemployment in Sheffield. That might seem to be a rather simplistic statement to make but independent research has also shown that for every £1 invested in apprenticeships the economy get £18 of added value and that companies which employ and apprentices are more successful than those which don't."

The audience also joined in a lively cross panel debate looking at how SMEs can be supported and encouraged to employ apprentices and also how young people can be "work-ready", employable candidates with the necessary social skills to enter a work environment.

Rounding off the event Hill Dickinson's David Rawlinson added: "We have heard today that the challenge ahead is to look within our own organisations to see how we can work together with the LEP and other agencies to provide the opportunities and training that young people so desperately need. In working together to find a solution we will begin to help the Sheffield city region and indeed the UK to lift the economy out of recession and to start growing again."

Hill Dickinson website

Images: Hill Dickinson


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