ECA responds to Queen’s Speech ‘skills guarantee’

The number of apprentices fell in almost a quarter of electrotechnical and engineering services firms since the beginning of 2021. The figure comes from an ECA business survey carried out earlier in May.

In the light of this finding, ECA applauded yesterday’s confirmation of a ‘lifetime skills guarantee’ in England and urged engineering services employers to make the most of all the recruitment options now available to them.

While welcoming the Skills and Post 16 Education Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech, the trade body sounded a note of caution.

Andrew Eldred, ECA Director of Employment and Skills, says: “The current uncertainty facing firms from many directions is the root cause of falling apprentice numbers. No amount of incentives will change employers’ minds if the outlook remains volatile.

“However, the ‘lifetime skills guarantee’ opens up another important option for employers looking to support skills development. Training routes for career changers or unqualified but experienced workers – which employers or individuals themselves have had to fund before – will now attract Government support.”

The ECA survey of 700 electrotechnical and engineering services firms revealed 24% fewer firms employed apprentices in Q2 2021 than in Q1. Over a third (34%) employed fewer subcontractors. And 22% hired fewer direct employees.

The ‘lifetime skills guarantee’ incorporates industry recognised qualifications, as recommended to Government by the Electrotechnical Skills Partnership (TESP). ECA is a leading member of TESP and advises member-businesses on appropriate training routes.

Andrew Eldred adds, “A recovery in apprenticeship recruitment is vital if businesses are to benefit from new growth opportunities and competence requirements – but nurturing older candidates, including those switching jobs and sectors, is another crucial part of the mix.”

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